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The REACH Opening Festival

September 7-22, 2019

The Kennedy Center
Washington, DC

Connection and celebration...
exploration and dialogue...
wonder and surprise

Here’s just a sample of all the participating artists, activities, and films in nearly 400 free events planned:


Opening Parade with The Musicianship and Carrie Mae Weems • DJ IZ • Story Pirates • Kelela • Raiz Campos • National Sawdust • Soloman Howard • Jazz Mafia: Heaviest Feather and Costa Nostra Strings • Freestyle Love Supreme Academy • Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra musicians • Capitol Hill Arts Workshop • Composition Quest • Tony Woods • CityDance POP! • More National Dance Day artists, events, and personalities including Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rima Faber, The Washington Ballet, Dance Place, Knock on Wood Tap Studio, Dance Exchange, Jones Haywood Dance School, Carol and Herb Traxler, Renee Robinson, Jerron Herman, Dance Metro DC, MYB Music in Motion, MODELS Inc., Candace Scarborough, an Interactive Dance & Film Workshop, and screenings of Ballet Now and New York City Ballet’s NY Export: Opus Jazz • More films including a series on JFK’s Peace Corps; Hollywood hits Fences and The Soloist; and documentaries including But Then, She’s Betty Carter; Looks of a Lot; Every Little Step; Duke Ellington’s Washington; My Mic Sounds Nice; and an interactive screening focused on Jim Henson’s early work in D.C.


Alan Menken • Renée Fleming • The Second City • Arrested Development • Robert Glasper • Syncopated Ladies • Dan + Claudia Zanes and Friends • National Symphony Orchestra • Debbie Allen • Thievery Corporation • Christylez Bacon • Angélique Kidjo •  Mo Willems • J.PERIOD • Afro Blue • The Time Machine Roast • A Tribe Called Red • Jason Moran and The Bandwagon • Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter • Tiler Peck • Flying Lotus • Ladd Brothers’ Scrollathon • Bootsy Collins with The Chuck Brown Band • Abeo Quartet • Larisa Martinez • Judah Friedlander • Martin Amini • Children of the Gospel Choir • Arts on the Horizon • Harmon Leon • Victor Haskins • Squonk Opera • Jeanine Tesori & Tazewell Thompson • Denise Taylor • TT The Artist with DJ Mighty Mark and TSU Dance Crew • Mason Bates • Dr. Francis Collins • Marc Bamuthi Joseph & Daniel Bernard Roumain’s The Just and the Blind • Jamel Johnson • Thomas Wilkins • InterAct Story Theatre • Valerie June • Jacqueline Suskin • Eighteenth Street Lounge •  Yamaneika Saunders • Pharoahe Monch • Rachel Feinstein • Stanley J. Thurston • UrbanArias • Yalitza Aparicio • Seaton Smith • Brandee Younger • The Archives • Drew Dollaz • Brittany Carney • Jazz Instrument “Petting Zoo” • Several screenings including The Muppet Movie; Washington National Opera’s Show Boat; Amazing Grace; Dave Chappelle’s Block Party; El sistema, Seymour: An Introduction; Love, Gilda; JFK documentaries; filmmakers Charles Burnett, Steve James, and Jodie Mack screening and discussing some of their works • and much more

Learn more in our Artistic Highlights

Join us for 16 full days and nights of creativity in action!

All events are free; timed-entry passes will be required for entry. Free passes and a complete day-by-day schedule of festival events will be available online beginning August 7 at 10 a.m.

  Sign up to receive the latest updates

Robert Glasper

Glimpse into the creative process by experiencing a performance residency with Grammy® winner Robert Glasper and other visionary musicians—and play your part in sketching wacky imaginary creatures in Infinite Monster.


Center your spirit at a John Coltrane-Inspired Jazz and Meditation Service—and step into the future in our Virtual Reality Lounge.

Outdoor movie showing The Muppets

Be amazed as performance poet Jacqueline Suskin writes on-demand poems in less than a minute—and join a 40th anniversary outdoor movie screening of The Muppet Movie.


Experience the many sides of Hip Hop Culture at a Block Party curated by iconic rapper and producer Q-Tip, our Artistic Director of Hip Hop Culture—and ask filmmakers your most burning questions in our John F. Kennedy documentary series.


Feel the power of hundreds of choral voices in Beethoven’s Ninth with the National Symphony Orchestra—and join other aspiring young performers for a class by The Broadway Collective.


Hold hands to light up the heart-shaped sculpture Heartfelt created by one of our Citizen Artist Fellows—and get a peek at rising young playwright Dave Harris’s award-winning satire Everybody Black.

Second City improv troupe on stage

Try your improv skills with sketch comedy dynamos The Second City—and sip a cocktail while melting away to the ethereal synth-pop of electronica group Night Glitter.


Greet the dawn with yoga and live music at Daybreaker—and dance into the sunset overlooking the Potomac at D.C. Lovers Rock.

Save the date for two vibrant weeks of FREE performances and activities celebrating the new expansion of our campus called the REACH.

These innovative indoor and outdoor spaces put YOU at the center of the art—where you can chart your own course and connect what moves you to creative experiences beyond imagination.

Discover how the Kennedy Center is forging new ways for artists, community groups, and YOU to come together to create and share joyous and meaningful moments, learn from each other, and win hearts and minds through the power of the arts. It all begins with the REACH Opening Festival, and everyone is invited!

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.