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No matter when you choose to visit the REACH during our Opening Festival, you’ll find plenty of performances, interactive activities, insightful conversations, and other events that speak to your interests and pique your curiosity across themes and art forms ranging from classical music to comedy to indigenous cultures.

Free timed-entry passes and a complete day-by-day festival schedule will be available online beginning August 7 at 10 a.m. Sign up for email updates to be the first to hear all the latest news and important information!

Residencies & Collaborators

One of the vital missions of the REACH is to serve as a cultural incubator for artists coming from near and far—giving them flexible new spaces that support and elevate their creative process in exploring, experimenting, collaborating, and expressing themselves. To this end, the festival will host several residencies to give you insight into the work of some of today’s most exciting visionaries. You’ll also be able to dive into fascinating passion projects that have been developed by longtime Kennedy Center friends and advisors.

Event Highlights

  • Four-time Grammy®-winning pianist and producer Robert Glasper engages in a two-week performance residency at the REACH, highlighting several of his genre-defying concept projects alongside special guests. Featured projects include The Robert Glasper Trio, his acclaimed Miles Davis tribute "Everything's Beautiful," and his future forward "Black Radio."
  • Grammy®-winning singer, songwriter, and bassist Esperanza Spalding joins forces with jazz saxophonist, composer, and 2018 Kennedy Center Honoree Wayne Shorter to work intensively with performers and creative team members on their new jazz opera Iphigenia, a contemporary take on the Greek myth co-commissioned by the Kennedy Center.
  • Grammy®-winning soprano and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large Renée Fleming showcases some of the unique programs she’s developed with us. As part of our Sound Health initiative, she’ll explore connections between the arts and wellness with renowned neuroscientist Dr. Charles Limb, Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, and local organizations like the American Music Therapy Association and the Levine School of Music. She’ll coach members of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. And she’ll perform with Beninese singer and activist Angélique Kidjo and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran in a concert inspired by our Renée Fleming VOICES series.
photo of Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo

Films & Simulcasts

During the festival, the REACH’s large outdoor video wall will play popular films and other special broadcasts. Pick a spot on the grass, grab a drink and a snack, and kick back to enjoy a wide variety of screenings! The outdoor video wall will also serve as a backdrop for projected installations created by some of today’s most exciting visual artists, and as a place to live-simulcast several performances in some of the more intimate spaces of the campus for all visitors to experience. Additionally, the REACH’s Justice Forum will host indoor screenings, among them documentaries and other video projects featuring discussions and Q&As with special guests before or after.

Event Highlights

  • Make "The Rainbow Connection" with your entire family at a 40th-anniversary screening of The Muppet Movie, the musical favorite that follows Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear, and all their friends as they travel across America in search of big Hollywood dreams. Before the movie, test your knowledge of Jim Henson's Muppets with fun facts and trivia hosted by Craig Shemin, president of The Jim Henson Legacy. Shemin will also lead an interactive screening of rare footage focused on Henson’s early work during his time in D.C. and studying at the University of Maryland. 
  • Enjoy an encore broadcast of Washington National Opera's hit production of the classic Broadway musical Show Boat, in the spirit of WNO's popular Opera in the Outfield events held at Nationals Park.
  • Take in various acclaimed Hollywood hits from the past decade including Fences (2016), starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and The Soloist (2009), starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.
  • See a more candid side of the late Aretha Franklin in the 2019 documentary Amazing Grace, chronicling the making of her best-selling 1972 live gospel album. The film won this year's NAACP Image Award.
  • Discover the life and legacy of groundbreaking African American opera singer Marian Anderson—whose concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 80 years ago became an historic moment in the fight for civil rights—with the new 2019 documentary Once in a Hundred Years, followed by a discussion with guest speakers including bass Soloman Howard, a former Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist. 
  • Delve into intimate portraits of other legendary musicians with the documentaries But Then, She’s Betty Carter (1980) and Duke Ellington’s Washington (2000).
  • Get an up-close look at our namesake through a series of John F. Kennedy documentary films tracing his trajectory from the campaign trail to the Oval Office and beyond, with footage from the Nixon-Kennedy debates, his press conferences, and more, along with several guest speakers. Robert Drew’s Primary and Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment are two of the featured films.
  • Enter the honest and whimsical world of Saturday Night Live alum Gilda Radner in a screening of Love, Gilda (2018), a "wonderfully rich and layered portrait" (Entertainment Weekly) of the beloved late comedian featuring recently discovered audiotapes, interviewers with her friends, rare home movies, and diary entries read by modern-day comedians.
  • Be moved by the music in documentaries presented by the National Symphony Orchestra, including Seymour: An Introduction (2014, directed by Ethan Hawke), an intimate portrait of classical pianist Seymour Bernstein who abandoned his rising career at age 50 to lead a more modest life as a music educator and composer, and El sistema (2008), which follows Venezuela's unique system of music education that takes children from violent slums and turns some of them into world-class musicians.
  • Take a look at the art form of Hip Hop and its intersections through some of yesterday and today's most impactful Hip Hop films followed by discussion—ranging from Fresh Dressed, My Mic Sounds Nice, and a Shaolin Jazz screening where classic martial arts films are remixed live by DJ 2-Tone Jones, to the hit 2005 documentary Dave Chappelle's Block Party.
  • Witness the skill, grace, and athleticism of dancers and choreographers from around the world in Slow Dancing (2007), a series of larger-than-life, hyper-slow-motion video portraits by renowned photographer David Michalek.
  • Explore various documentaries including George Nierenberg's No Maps on My Taps (1979) with tap-dance masters Bunny Briggs, Chuck Green, and "Sandman" Sims; A Towering Task (2019), a new documentary about the Peace Corps as part of a full-day of collaborative activities with this vital volunteer program, which John F. Kennedy established during his presidency; Looks of a Lot (2014), which follows Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran as he prepared his same-named concert at Chicago’s Symphony Center; Every Little Step (2008), which chronicles casting for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line; Ballet Now (2018) featuring New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Tiler Peck; and Me and the Light (2017) about virtuoso “jookin’” dancer Lil Buck.
  • Join three filmmakers who will be in residence to host workshops accompanying screenings of their films, including documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams, the multi-part America to Me), experimental animator Jodie Mack (The Grand Bizarre, Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project), and Charles Burnett (To Sleep with Anger; Selma, Lord Selma; When It Rains; The Glass Shield; Nightjohn), known for his realistic and intimate portrayals of African American families.
Show Boat presenting on a wall outside

Show Boat

Jazz

For the festival, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran has curated several events filled with vibrant music and movement. Our spotlight on the art form will include a nod to the legacies of late jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, whose influences together and independently continue to resonate the world over.

Event Highlights

  • Celebrate the music of Alice Coltrane with a performance by genre-defying harpist and keyboardist Brandee Younger, who cites Alice Coltrane as one of her greatest influences. She will also lead a harpist masterclass.
  • Immerse yourself in a 3D multimedia spectacle with Flying Lotus—aka music producer and DJ Steven Ellison, the grandnephew of Alice and John Coltrane—whose acclaimed experimental productions blend electronic music, jazz, and Hip Hop.
  • Calm your mind with a Music and Meditation Service guided by ministry leaders from San Francisco’s historic Saint John Coltrane Church.
  • Get a high-intensity, low-impact, full-body workout with Jazz Barre, led by Sidebarre DC instructors to music performed by a live jazz trio led by saxophonist Marshall Keys
  • Experience the fierce footwork of D.C. natives and Emmy®-nominated viral female tap dance sensations Syncopated Ladies in performance and workshop.
  • Join pianist Jason Moran for a concert with his group The Bandwagon and special guest singer/songwriter Kelela.
  • Bring your family to various kid-friendly events: At a Jazz Instrument “Petting Zoo” young ones can enjoy hands-on fun by getting to know the instruments of a jazz ensemble. And take a trip to Salvador, Bahia, to explore Afro-Brazilian musical traditions and rhythms with a jazz trio helmed by Kennedy Center Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead alum Victor Haskins.
  • Watch the documentary Looks of a Lot (2014), which follows Jason Moran as he prepared his same-named concert for a premiere at Chicago’s Symphony Center.
Brandee Younger and her harp

Brandee Younger

Indigenous Cultures

The Kennedy Center sits on the banks of the Potomac—an Algonquin name given to the river by the area’s Native American ancestors. Across the D.C. region, reminders of our indigenous heritage are everywhere. The festival will showcase local, national, and international artists who have harnessed their indigenous roots to create contemporary work reflecting our shared humanity, and invite discussion on topics related to the challenges and inspirations of First Nations artists.

Event Highlights

  • Get into your groove with Canadian electronic music group A Tribe Called Red (Mohawk/Cayuga), whose contemporary “powwow-step” style blends Hip Hop, reggae, and dance club beats with elements of First Nations vocal chanting and drumming. Opening act is local intertribal drummers the Uptown Boyz (Piscataway).
  • Feel the passion of 2019 Indigenous Music Award-nominated neo-folk singer/songwriter/guitarist Thea Hopkins (Aquinnah Wampanoag), from Boston, on a double bill with Grammy®-nominated vocalist/cellist/composer Dawn Avery (Mohawk) joined by Grammy®-winning guitarist Larry Mitchell.
  • Explore the intersection of art and activism when Australian dancer/choreographer Amrita Hepi (Bundjulung/Ngapuhi) presents her part-sculpture, part-performance solo work An Occupation, which uses a heart monitor to inflate and deflate a long tube and question traditional power structures.
  • Embrace a full spectrum of indigenous performances including the art of hula with Hawaiian singer/songwriter/dancer Keali'i Reichel, hoop dancing with New York-based interdisciplinary artist Ty Defoe (Giizhiig/Ojibwe/Onieda), aboriginal sounds of the didgeridoo by Australia’s David Williams (Wakka Wakka), and storytelling from D.C.-based Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent).
  • Hear first-hand indigenous perspectives from the worlds of performance, visual art, and film through various panel discussions, Q&As, and workshops with some of the aforementioned artists along with Oscar®-nominated Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio (Mixtec/Triqui) from the film Roma, potter/fashion designer/photographer Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), filmmaker/screenwriter/visual artist Steven Paul Judd (Choctaw/Kiow), nationally recognized artist and art writer Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga/Nez Perce) whose work can be found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian NMAI, mural and graffiti artist Raiz Campos (Waimiri Atroari Reservation/Amazon), and others.
Steven Paul Judd and his rubix cube art work

Steven Paul Judd

Theater

The festival’s theater spotlight will connect local and national theater communities in a variety of ways, giving artists and audiences opportunities to explore their stories together and be a part of inclusive and interactive theatrical experiences. Additionally, top talents from Broadway and the D.C. area will shine bright in performances, readings, master classes, and more.

Event Highlights

  • Celebrate songs from your favorite musicals when Oscar®, Tony®, and Grammy®-winning Broadway and Hollywood composer Alan Menken—known for hits ranging from Little Shop of Horrors to Aladdin to Beauty and the Beast—is joined by Broadway stars, the National Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Steven Reineke in an open-air concert. You also have the chance to observe Alan Menken leading a songwriting master class.
  • Join a reading of fast-rising playwright Dave Harris’s Everybody Black, his award-winning satire in which a black historian is paid big money by white people to write the definitive version of The Black Experience™, even though he has never met another black person. Harris’s play won the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award at this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
  • If you’re a young musical theater lover, you can register for master classes specially dedicated to three realms of performing—acting, singing, and dancing—from New York-based training academy The Broadway Collective, led by teaching artists direct from the Broadway stage.
  • Hear from established and emerging local playwrights in a special DC Playwrights Forum discussion led by two nationally known local favorites and Helen Hayes Award winners: playwright/director Aaron Posner and playwright Karen Zacarias. Among the topics: Is there a distinct identity of a “D.C. playwright”?
  • Explore issues of racial profiling and the prison-industrial complex in The Just and the Blind, a multimedia collaboration of short poetry/spoken word vignettes created by composer-violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and street dance pioneer Drew Dollaz featuring music, dance, and spoken word framed by visually striking photography and animation projections.
  • Get hands-on with additional activities for a full range of ages—from sessions for kids designed by InterAct Story Theatre and Arts on the Horizon, to a storytelling workshop for seniors led by a Kennedy Center teaching artist.
photo of Alan Menken

Alan Menken

Electronica/DJ Culture

Some of the most innovative and exciting explorations on the D.C. music scene are happening in the area’s thriving club culture. The REACH Opening Festival has invited Eric Hilton—one half of the internationally renowned, locally based electronica duo Thievery Corporation—to curate a variety of performances and activities that delve into the craft and soundscapes of DJs and musicians working in this world, to include several artist collaborators from the wide Thievery Corporation universe.

Event Highlights

  • Experience Thievery Corporation’s inventive integration of world music with electronica that has pushed boundaries and influenced composers for more than two decades. Eric Hilton and duo-mate Rob Garza offer a concert highlighting music from their diverse catalogue.
  • Jam with local progressive reggae band The Archives in a concert tribute to the revolutionary music of late soul, blues, and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron, a Washington legend.
  • Melt into the ethereal synth-pop of singer/songwriter LouLou Ghelichkhani’s new Austin-based project Night Glitter, the American and Brazilian jazz/pop of multicultural vocalist ELIN, the downtempo reggae/Hip Hop rhythms of drummer Congo Sanchez with his band, the neo-funk/jazz/soul/blues of D.C.-based Champion Sound Band, and more.
  • Chill out in our expansive and dramatic new Skylight Pavilion with Skylight Soundscapes, a specially commissioned installation by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates that will use projections and sounds to create an immersive lounge space. Themed environments will include “Detroit to Berlin,” “Cappella,” “The Synthesizer,” “Burn This,” and “String Band.”
  • Engage with Baltimore-bred and LA-based Hip Hop, club, and pop sensation TT The Artist in performance with DJ Mighty Mark and TSU Dance Crew, as well as in discussion with scenes from her documentary film project Dark City Beneath the Beat.
  • Join an Eighteenth Street Lounge Takeover when D.C.’s hottest spot for regional and world-class DJ talent, led by Farid Nouri, comes to the REACH for “live activation” in the Skylight Pavilion. The experience will feature local DJs and a cameo appearance from Mason Bates. Throughout the festival, other artists will activate the space, including the young American music collective Jazz Mafia featuring the ensembles Heaviest Feather and Costa Nostra Strings joined by Mason, and a takeover by innovative classical and new music institution National Sawdust.
  • Go deep with local nightlife industry veteran DJ Divine as he takes you through the origins, elements, and history of house music by interspersing DJ sets with discussion and demonstration.
  • Take a music improvisation and beatmaking workshop led by Baltimore Boom Bap Society, incorporating elements of Hip Hop, classical, and jazz composition.
  • Listen to Collective Futures in Music, curated mini DJ and performance sets by emerging local artists who blend electronica, Baltimore club, Hip Hop, and R&B. Later, join them for a panel where they discuss creating new futures of justice through music. Featured musicians and panelists are DJ Genie, DJ Trillnatured, DJ Toyo Mansi, Kotic Couture, and Eunbi Kim.
Electronic duo Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation

Classical Music & the Voice

The National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera both make their home at the Kennedy Center. Superstar soprano Renée Fleming continues to develop unique programs with us as Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large, including her popular Renée Fleming VOICES series. And pianist Joseph Kalichstein continues to shine as part of our Trio in Residence and Artistic Director of our Fortas Chamber Music Series. The opening of the REACH offers you the chance to experience their music in new settings beyond the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Opera House, and Terrace Theater. You’ll also be able to work with and hear directly from some of the artists of the NSO and WNO, and enjoy performances, activities, and films all of our classically trained friends and affiliates are most excited about.

Event Highlights

  • Feel the power of hundreds of local choral voices coming together with the NSO in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, led by conductor Thomas Wilkins and featuring four soloist singers from WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program coached by Renée Fleming. Stanley J. Thurston will lead the 300-voice chorus, anchored by The Heritage Signature Chorale.
  • Revel in the diverse musical influences of Beninese Grammy Award®–winning singer/songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo, hailed as “Africa’s premier diva” by Time Magazine, when she joins Renée Fleming and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran in concert.
  • Hear from Tony®-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and NAACP Theatre Award–winning librettist Tazewell Thompson on their new opera Blue in a moderated discussion that will also include musical selections from the work. Inspired by contemporary events and Black literature, Blue will make its D.C. premiere as part of WNO’s upcoming performance season.
  • Observe a master class on arranging music led by NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke, as well as a master class on listening led by Joseph Kalichstein—who will also be joined in concert by the gifted young musicians of the Abeo Quartet for a program of Debussy and Dvořák.
  • Watch opera improv unfold before your very eyes and ears when local cutting-edge opera company UrbanArias brings a cocktail happy hour program performed by a cast of singers to include artists from the WNO family and others.
  • Elevate your mad rapping skills to pure magic in a Rap Improv Workshop led by Freestyle Love Supreme Academy. Learn basic theories of Hip Hop, spoken word, beatboxing, confidence, momentum, listening, and ultimately joy!
  • Enjoy concerts by local classical orchestra ensemble DC Strings Workshop, daring young wind quintet District5 who specialize in new music, acclaimed opera bass Soloman Howard and Howard University’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue as part of a Renée Fleming VOICES–inspired program along with other artists, the young voices of Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel Choir, and more.
  • Sneak a peek at new short operas in their final readings, created by up-and-coming composer/lyricist teams who’ve been commissioned by WNO’s American Opera Initiative program.
  • Get first-hand insight into the craft, dedication, and artistry of making music in TED-style Classical Talks with musicians representing a variety of instruments and backgrounds.
  • Be moved by the music in documentaries presented by the NSO including Seymour: An Introduction (2014, directed by Ethan Hawke), an intimate portrait of classical pianist Seymour Bernstein who abandoned his rising career at age 50 to lead a more modest life as a music educator and composer; El sistema (2008), which follows Venezuela’s unique system of music education that takes children from violent slums and turns some of them into world-class musicians; and Duke Ellington's Washington (2000), a dynamic blend of music, pictures, and oral histories that illuminate both young Ellington and the hometown that nurtured him.
  • Join NSO musicians in different combinations as they curate and lead a variety of interactive activities, demonstrations, and workshops. For families, The String Thing features the “silent” comedic tag team of NSO musicians Paul DeNola (bass) and Heather LeDoux Green (violin) as they introduce young audiences to some of the greatest music ever written in a hilarious program of music and mayhem.
  • Also for families, join Presto!, a string trio of musicians from the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, to help follow the clues and crack The Case of the Vanishing Viola. Karen Lowry-Tucker (violin), Elizabeth Pulju-Owen (viola), and Drew Owen (cello and magic) perform a mix of classical, jazz, bluegrass, and ragtime music in this engaging concert.
DC Strings

DC Strings Workshop

Comedy

Throughout the festival, the REACH will be resonating with laughter in performances and activities exploring the depth, breadth, and plethora of mediums where comedy exists today. We’ll tickle your funny bone in everything from stand-up and sketch to podcasting and improv.

Event Highlights

  • Show off your perfect comic timing at Joke-E-Oke, a game show where you get to be the star in a mix of karaoke and classic stand up, hosted by comedian Harmon Leon.
  • Take your pick from a variety of District of Comedy Stand Up Showcases featuring both national headliners and emerging voices who all have either local roots or a D.C.-area connection—including Judah Friedlander, Rachel Feinstein, Brandon Wardell, Jamel Johnson, Brittany Carney, Denise Taylor, Seaton Smith, Tony Woods, Yamaneika Saunders, Martin Amini, and many more.
  • Join improv comedy dynamos The Second City for a healthy dose of sketch shows, improv jams, “Legendary Laughs” with celebrity alumni, and comedy workshops geared toward a variety of ages including The Second City’s Guide to Jazz with Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Director for Jazz.
  • Enter the honest and whimsical world of Saturday Night Live alum Gilda Radner in a screening of Love, Gilda (2018), a “wonderfully rich and layered portrait” (Entertainment Weekly) of the beloved late comedian featuring recently discovered audiotapes, interviewers with her friends, rare home movies, and diary entries read by modern-day comedians.
  • Watch some of your favorite hilarious podcasts live, including Yeah, But Still with host Brandon Wardell, a special edition of Say What?! with host of Get up DC! Reese Waters, and Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast with Jessica McKenna, Zach Reino, and a special guest from Broadway.
  • Bust a gut at a Stand Up Showcase from local comedy promoter Underground Comedy, featuring some of D.C.’s best comedians and up-and-coming talent.
  • Travel back to days of yore as touring comedians get into character and costume to hurl flaming arrows at historical figures in The Time Machine Roast—a non-stop barrage of “the meanest, funniest, and most historically accurate jokes you’ve ever heard.”
photo of Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander

Dance

In 2019, American Dance Movement (formerly the Dizzy Feet Foundation) moves National Dance Day from July to September—becoming a perfect opportunity for the Kennedy Center to take our annual National Dance Day festivities to new heights using all the new spaces of the REACH!

Event Highlights

  • Let Emmy®-winning choreographer, actress, producer, and longtime Kennedy Center favorite Debbie Allen (Fame, So You Think You Can Dance) guide you through the day as our mainstage emcee, prefaced by an introduction by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) at the top of the outdoor show. Allen also bring students from her Debbie Allen Dance Academy for a thrilling performance and a jazz dance masterclass.
  • Experience the multiple talents of New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck in a mainstage show performing her “pointe-to-pop” moves as seen in Charlotte OC’s famous 2017 “Medicine Man” music video, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. You can also hear more about her artistry when she joins an up-close panel discussion for a screening of Ballet Now, the 2018 documentary that follows her groundbreaking vision for curating a high-profile event at The Music Center.
  • Join the crowd in learning this year’s official nation-wide National Dance Day routine, created by American Dance Movement and taught on stage by a national dance talent.  
  • Take a journey through the History of Dance in D.C. in an interactive performance/lecture led by writer and narrator Lisa Traiger. She’ll be joined by local dance artists and companies including Rima Faber, The Washington Ballet, Dance Place, Knock on Wood Tap StudioDance Exchange, and Jones Haywood Dance School to demonstrate the city’s stories in tap, ballet, modern dance styles, and more—all leading up to choreographer Sarah Beth Oppenheim leading the crowd through a “line dance” routine featuring movement inspired by local landmarks.
  • Enjoy Fela! The Concert, a concert version of the hit Tony Award®-winning Broadway show based on music, lyrics, and the life of the late Nigerian singer, composer, and activist Fela Kuti.
  • Explore various documentaries including George Nierenberg’s No Maps on My Taps (1979) with tap-dance masters Bunny Briggs, Chuck Green, and “Sandman” Sims; and New York City Ballet’s 2010 reimagining of Jerome Robbins’s “ballet in sneakers” smash hit NY Export: Opus Jazz, filmed on location in NYC.
  • See a performance and learn some movement with Jerron Herman, a principal dancer and choreographer at Heidi Latsky Dance with cerebral palsy who is now making his own interdisciplinary work.
  • Engage yourself in a DC Dance Round Table Discussion hosted by Dance Metro DC, and join an Interactive Dance and Film Workshop to learn several helpful techniques for capturing dance on a smart phone or tablet.
  • “Try on” different styles of movement in masterclasses led by local dance organizations for all ages and abilities, ranging from contemporary dance with Motion X Dance DC, classical Indian dance with Spilling Ink, Chinese ribbon dance with Xuejuan Dance Ensemble, tap dance with Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble, fitness dance with LaBlast Fitness, dancehall fusion with Raediant Movement, salsa with Gina Safadi, a stretch class as well as dance for those with Parkinson’s Disease with Lucy Bowen McCauley, Gaga/people technique with Candace Scarborough, floor barre with Renee Robinson, a masterclass designed for dancers of all abilities by MYB Music in Motion, Beychella with MODELS Inc., Viennese waltz with Carol and Herb Traxler, story time with The Washington Ballet, and many more.
Group dancing on Dance Day

National Dance Day

Hip Hop

The REACH celebrates the core tenets of Hip Hop Culture—MCing, DJing, breaking, and graffiti—with an all-encompassing Block Party conceptualized by rapper/producer Q-Tip, the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture, as well as national artists from the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture Council and key community collaborators. The Block Party officially opens the Kennedy Center’s 2019–2020 Hip Hop Culture season with performances and activities that deepen public understanding of one of the nation’s greatest art forms, and the genius of the communities that created it.

Event Highlights

  • Enjoy one-of-a-kind performances by D.C. native Kokayi as he curates a very special set of Kokayi & Friends in addition to concerts by two Hip Hop Culture Council members: New York rapper Pharoahe Monch, who’ll debut his new trio project TH1RT3EN featuring Monch, Marcus Machado, and Daru Jones; and award–winning DJ J.PERIOD, who’ll join some of Hip Hop’s most celebrated emcees to create and record a new live mixtape on stage.
  • Join one of several Culture Talks with top artists from the field, on topics ranging from producers in Hip Hop to women in the Culture.
  • Take a look at the art form and its intersections through a cinematic lens with some of yesterday and today’s most impactful Hip Hop films followed by discussion—ranging from Fresh Dressed, My Mic Sounds Nice, and a Shaolin Jazz screening where classic martial arts films are remixed live by DJ 2-Tone Jones, to the hit 2005 documentary Dave Chappelle's Block Party.
  • Check out graffiti artists as they create vibrant new works and learn the art forms of DJing and breaking through workshops and master classes powered by Words, Beats & Life.
  • Dance the day and night away with ongoing DJ sets by DJ RBI, DJ Miss H.E.R, Bobbito García aka “Kool Bob Love,” and many others.
Break dancer doing a head spin

Words, Beats & Life

Activities for All Ages

Every day of the festival will include immersive, hands-on experiences for all ages that are as entertaining as they are educational. Some may only be scheduled for a day or two, while others may run across all 16 days. These activities aren’t just for kids and families—adults both young and seasoned will have just as much fun creating and playing in them together. Come one, come all!

Event Highlights

  • Celebrate the opening of the REACH with the Kennedy Center’s first-ever Education Artist-in-Residence, Mo Willems, in 3 exciting ways. Mo will host MO-a-PALOOZA LIVE!, a rockin' concert featuring songs from Mo's popular stage adaptations, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!, and the Kennedy Center's upcoming production of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical). Additionally, Mo's beloved Pigeon will take you on an interactive treasure hunt around the Kennedy Center through a brand new app on your phone.  And visitors to the REACH's new Moonshot Studio will have the chance to draw their favorite Mo Willems characters and learn a bit about animation and storytelling.
  • Discover “the gold standard in kids’ music” (NPR) when Grammy Award® winner Dan Zanes, his wife Claudia Zanes and Pauline Jean—both Haitian American jazz vocalists—and Mexican percussionist Yuriana Sobrino perform Dan’s greatest hits, as well as folk and blues classics from Dan Zanes’s House Party!: A Family Roots Music Treasury, Dan and Claudia’s new songbook. Sing and dance along to this highly interactive concert that will also include selections from the Kennedy Center–commissioned 2017 folk opera Night Train 57.
  • Thrill to “The Human Beatbox”—aka D.C.’s own Grammy®-nominated progressive Hip Hop artist Christylez Bacon—as he brings together rhyming, storytelling, and interactive call-and-response choruses with diverse instrumentation to deliver a message of cultural acceptance and unification.
  • Step into new worlds in our Virtual Reality Lounge, where you can put on an Oculus headset that brings to life colorful adventures near, far, and beyond imagination in three dimensions!
  • Go for hands-on exploration in our new Moonshot Studio, where activities will be running throughout the festival for visitors of all ages to spend time delving into various art forms, exploring stories and themes from the Center’s stages, and creating their own works of art.
  • Join Pittsburgh, PA’s Squonk Opera in performances and hands-on workshops, including a new production called Hand to Hand, in which they manipulate gargantuan hands to tell innovative stories with rockin’ beats.
  • Be amazed at all the wacky results created from Infinite Monster, developed by Australia’s Terrapin Puppet Theatre. Enter a space with two other people, where each of you has one minute to sketch either the top, middle, or bottom of any creature from your imagination. No one can see what the others are designing; come out the other side to see what your combined “monster” looks like!
  • Contribute to a larger citywide sculpture creation as part of the Ladd Brothers’ Scrollathon. Use fabric scrolls to add your own unique touch to this collaborative mural.
  • Move, sing, and play in 1-2-3 Andrés, in which Latin Grammy®-winning teaching artists Andrés and Christina get kids and families excited about learning and dancing together in both Spanish and English.
  • Experience the creativity of some of the Kennedy Center’s Citizen Fellow Artists in installations ranging from Ekene Ijeoma’s Heartfelt, where you hold hands together to light up a heart-shaped sculpture, to Michelle Angela Ortiz’s The Courage Within Me, created with local students on the topic of what it means to be brave. 
  • Jump start your day with Daybreaker—the global movement that kicks off with early-morning yoga followed by a full-throttle dance party full of surprises and live performances—in collaboration with our Sound Health program.
  • Enjoy an interactive performance by LA- and NYC-based Story Pirates, a renowned group that collects kid-created stories from students and youth and adapts them for the stage with professional actors in a sketch comedy venue.
  • Spend quality time with your little ones at an All-Family Yoga session guided by Circle Yoga, a kid-friendly Baby Rave dance party led by a local DJ, a Journey to Africa music workshop led by Wolf Trap master teaching artist Kofi Dennis, a drop-in Composition Quest activity where an artist will create a story for families on the spot, an art-making workshop with Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, a creative movement class with CityDance POP!, and a Spanish music-making workshop from Levine Music’s Cantemos y Bailemos early childhood education series.
  • Browse a variety of sculptures and installations by world-renowned visual artists adorning the indoor and outdoor spaces of the REACH. A dramatic new installation by D.C.-based artist Sam Gilliam will greet visitors inside one of the new pavilions. Out in the landscaped gardens, Joel Shapiro’s playful 24-foot aluminum piece Untitled (2019) will be on semi-permanent display, Roy Lichtenstein’s sculpture Brushstroke will be on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Deborah Butterfield’s new bronze horse Milk River will be on permanent display, having been generously donated by art collector Sam Rose.
  • Help bring the festival—and summer—to a euphoric close with D.C. Lovers Rock, a West Indian-style sunset dance party. With DJs competing for the crowd in an authentic Jamaican Sound Clash, and performances headed by Bob Marley collaborator Junior Marvin, queer Cuban Hip Hop duo Las Krudas, and dancehall legend Sister Nancy, DC Lovers Rock unites festival audiences in a shared celebration of love and community.
Squonk Opera with 2 big hands

Squonk Opera

All REACH Opening Festival events are free; timed-entry passes will be required for entry. Free passes and a complete day-by-day schedule of events will be available online beginning August 7 at 10 a.m. Join the Opening Festival mailing list for the latest updates.