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Kennedy Center shakes off staid image

Updated: 2017-03-20 07:32

Kennedy Center shakes off staid image

The Kennedy Center will launch the Direct Current festival with risque and genre-blurring performances next year. [Photo/Agencies]

The Kennedy Center, the giant arts complex in Washington, recently announced a new bid to shake off its staid reputation with a festival of risque and genre-blurring performances.

Opening next year, the Direct Current festival will bring 80-year-old Philip Glass, often considered the leading living US composer, to the national arts center for the first time.

Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter says that Direct Current, which she intends to make an annual event, was part of a mission to present works that are "fresh and provocative".

Rutter, who has led the Kennedy Center since 2014, says the national institution needed to ask: "Where are we collectively in contemporary culture".

There should be no "art that doesn't have a home here. We are not a museum", she says.

The 10-day program in March 2018 will open with the drag cabaret artist Taylor Mac recreating A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, presented last year to acclaim in a 24-hour marathon at a New York theater.

Taylor Mac, whose project aims to sum up music since 1776, will condense the project for the Kennedy Center and gear the performance to Washington, whose contributions to musical history include the funk offshoot of go-go and hardcore punk.

The Kennedy Center-traditionally separated in sections that include opera, music and dance-will use the festival to present more works that merge categories including Koyaanisqatsi, in which Glass set music to an experimental film on natural landscapes.

Direct Current will complement KC Jukebox, a program of contemporary music that will enter its third season in 2017-18 with performers including Mouse on Mars, the playful and innovative German electronic duo.

Other highlights from the upcoming season include the latest showcase of singers selected by leading soprano Renee Fleming.

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