Continuing its acclaimed winter celebrations of international arts, (recently World Stages in 2014 and Nordic Cool in 2013), the Kennedy Center is presenting “Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix,” which opened March 3rd and closes March 24.
“Iberian Suite will include approximately 600 artists in all coming from the Peninsula as well as from Africa, Latina America and Asia that will show the extraordinary exchange that has happened between countries since the explorers of the 15th century up until today,” says Alicia Adams, curator and VP, international programming and dance. “We want to surprise, educate and entertain our audiences with the best in arts and culture from the countries—to show them something they may not have seen before.”
“Washington, D.C. is unique in that every nation across the globe is represented here. Iberian Suite demonstrates the current incarnations of Iberian cultural arts rooted in a millennium of tradition,” Adams says. “The festival emphasizes the cultural exchanges between Portugal and Spain as well as countries in Asia, Africa, and South America.”
The Iberian Suite festival presents some of the world’s best contemporary theatre, dance and music from cultures of Portuguese and Spanish-speaking peoples, showing the impact they’ve had throughout the world, and the influences they’ve embraced from other cultures.
Theatrical performances as of March 8 as part of the Iberian Suite festival
Details and Tickets or call 800-444-1324
According to Adams, many of the shows are making their U.S. or D.C. debuts, and feature both new artists and beloved icons.
“We look for the best artist in the country whether they are known or emerging to present on our stages,” she says. “We have an artistic standard that they must meet in order to consider them. Gilda Almeida, my deputy, is from Brazil and co-curated the festival with me. She has vast knowledge of Portugal and Brazil, which will be featured prominently in the festival.”
Theatre for children
For those with children 12 and up, Adams recommends Ron Lala Theater Company’s Somewhere in Quixote, making its US premier. “In a large imaginary library, the great Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes is writing his literary masterpiece Don Quixote. But he’s desperate for inspiration, so he begs his friends—a barber and a priest—to help him act it out and finish his story,” she says. “They’re a great company.”
Jazz and dance performances within the festival
There are numerous visual arts highlighted in exhibitions and installations around the building, and additional events focus on literature, film, cuisine, and more.
“Every performance really has its own merits,” Adams says. “Mala Voadora, Teatro De La Abadia, Companhia Hiato and Diogo Infante & Joao Gil are all either U.S. or DC premieres, which is exciting for audiences.”
Cape Verdean singer Carmen Souza will perform a jazz program March 16, and Mexican vocalist Eugenia León will pay tribute to great Ibero-American singers and composers March 14-15.
Coming up on Wednesday and Thursday, March 11 and 12, choreographer and Flamenco dancer María Pagés makes her U.S. premiere in the show Utopía at the Eisenhower Theater.
Also on tap for performances are Portuguese singer Carminho, iconic vocalist Eugenia León from Mexico, American soprano Harolyn Blackwell, the Arakaendar Choir and Orchestra from Bolivia, experimental American orchestra PostClassical Ensemble, D.C.’s own Coral Cantigas and National Broadway Chorus, Mozambican jazz saxophonist Moreira Chonguiça, pianist Javier Perianes from Spain, Israeli American virtuoso Amit Peled, and Brazil’s internationally acclaimed dance company Grupo Corpo.
Free Picasso ceramics exhibit featured among other arts and cultural events
The festival draws on Iberia’s legacy, enriched by its many cultures, marked by war and conquest, triumph and tragedy. Adams calls the history both inspiring and sobering.
“Ultimately, what has endured is an outpouring of creativity and intelligence that is civilization’s greatest gift,” she says. “It has brought us a rich bounty. It is that sense of artistic exuberance that we seek to celebrate in this festival.”
Adams notes she has also relied on the help of other consultants such as Marie Arana to curate the literary portion of the festival and has worked with Arte Institute to bring artists to the Millennium Stage where their performances will be free, and to help create some of the installations that will be in the public spaces of the festival.
“We listen and learn as well as bring the knowledge from our own experiences of the field to create these festivals,” she says.
The festival will also feature a fashion show and a literature series. On the Terrace Level will be an exhibit about food around the world, designed for children, and the Kennedy Center restaurants will serve regional dishes.
Another highlight of the event is “Picasso, Ceramics and the Mediterranean,” an exhibition of more than 150 pieces of the legendary artist’s ceramic work, which is on display through March 22 on the second flood of the Kennedy Center. The show explores Picasso’s attraction to Mediterranean colors, shapes and mythology and was created for the Marseille-Provence 2013 celebration and later traveled to France’s National Museum of Ceramics.
“The pieces are exquisite, and to be able to see these rare works of art, many from private collections, for free, is an incredible opportunity,” Adams says. “This is the exhibition’s only American stop.”