In anticipation of reopening its doors and resuming mainstage performances, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the updated 2021 seasons of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and Washington National Opera (WNO), along with the new seasons of theater, ballet and dance, and Performances for Young Audiences.
The ambitious but limited season will begin on January 14, 2021, contingent on entry into phase four of the District of Columbia’s ReOpen D.C. guidelines. Programming will remain flexible and in accordance with any updates to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s reopening guidelines.
“Over the past four months, I’ve been struck by the heartening proof that we need artists and the arts now more than ever,” said Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. “The Center has chosen to move forward with optimism balanced by safety and constant re-evaluation as the effects of the pandemic continue to evolve. Even with a shortened season, the Kennedy Center strives to provide a broad range of world-class arts to the widest possible audience — in-person and digitally. Our supporters and patrons have given us strength during these unusual times; as the coming months unfold, we are exceedingly grateful for the patience, flexibility and trust of our audiences.”
Highlights of the 2021 season include: previously announced NSO subscription performances beginning with an exciting program, January 14 and 16, conducted by Dalia Stasevska, principal guest conductor of London’s BBC Symphony Orchestra; the rescheduled performances of WNO’s highly anticipated production of Blue, Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson’s contemporary opera which was recently named “Best New Opera” of 2020 by the Music Critics Association of North America; a range of Broadway hits including a new 50th anniversary production of Jesus Christ Superstar; the original hip hop improv sensation Freestyle Love Supreme returns following its 2019 pre-Broadway Kennedy Center run; the Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!; the Tony- and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen; Tony nominee Disney’s Frozen; the Tony- and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Hadestown; and Tony- and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical The Band’s Visit; Beethoven at 250, the NSO’s four-week festival of concerts celebrating the composer’s 250th birthday and his remarkable contribution to music; Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Celebration Tour honoring the impact of the company’s iconic founder; the Kennedy Center debut of Monaco’s renowned Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo; perennial favorites New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre with comedic classics in the ballet repertoire; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with a mix of exhilarating repertory programs; and Kennedy Center co-commission of the newest work from leading Bharatanatyam ensemble, Ragamala Dance Company; and a number of Kennedy Center commissions and co-commissions for performances for young audiences including In the MOment: A Drawing Dance, a new collaboration between Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems and Ephrat Asherie Dance.
Also announced was the Kennedy Center’s slate of 2020 fall programming, a range of both digital and new in-person events curated to take advantage of the Center’s diverse indoor spaces and more than 130,000 square feet of outdoor green space allowing for physically distant programming. The new schedule also features some previously planned performances relocated into larger venues. For further information regarding fall 2020 programming, click here.
The Kennedy Center continues to work in consultation with health and safety experts including consultation with medical experts from George Washington University, the National Institutes of Health, United Health Care, and the Wharton School, national and local guidelines, and in accordance with the District of Columbia’s ReOpen DC guidelines for its reopening plans. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and as the Kennedy Center and the nation learns more about best practices for reopening, the Center is committed to reviewing and updating its risk mitigation protocols on an ongoing basis. For the most up-to-date information regarding protocols both current and for spring of 2021, check the Kennedy Center website for all measures to ensure patron safety during this time.