“Ballet & Brass” This Weekend

Talking with Diane Coburn Bruning, artistic director of the electric Chamber Dance Project, and checking out her resume, you hear and find a lot of things going on, few of which seem to mesh at first glance.

There’s the energetic ambition, hers and the company’s, which seeks to stretch dance into the community, make it a living thing, alive in the time and the place. She’s a classically trained dancer, but as a choreographer her works are fresh as tomorrow, though she founded the Chamber Dance Project in New York back in 2000 and, after trailblazing a new path there, brought it to Washington in 2013.

She’s proud of having office space in the practically new D.C. downtown, and even prouder of her company. “You get to work with so many people, and that’s the whole idea. Dance and music, music and dance, music and movement,” she said.

“We tour during the year but have a season here,” she said. “This is about dance with live music. I think that’s an imperative, a must thing. And not just one kind of music. But we have a string quartet for our season in June, and the musicians will be on stage. That’s absolutely essential.”

Washingtonians — fans and newcomers — will get a chance to see and hear and feel just how eclectic the Chamber Dance Project experience can be with the 2016 season, June 23 through 26 at the Lansburgh Theatre. It’s called “Ballet & Brass,” including what promises to be an energetic new work, “Festival,” by Washington hip-hop artist and choreographer Victor Adebusola, featuring the Brass Connection.

“To me, this is a further opportunity to become a part of the city as a whole,” Bruning said. “We’re having young choreographers and we have the musical participation of the Brass Connection. They’re an amazing band, and a treasure of the D.C. street scene. For this season, the ballet dancers will meet them on the streets and bring them inside the theater for our audiences.”

Two of the world-premiere works have been inspired by the flavor, the heat and the ambiance of New Orleans at Carnival. Adebusola’s “Festival” celebrates the essence of New Orleans at its most bluesy, colorful and charismatic moments, with music by Mosche Snowden. Also in the New Orleans frame of mind is Jennifer Archibald’s “Rue Noir,” which celebrates and probes the French Quarter in the night.

Another world premiere is “Five,” choreographed by Bruning, which features music by Bryce Dessner, including “Aheym” and “Little Blue Something.”

Having its Washington premiere is another work by Bruning, “Flying Cloud Cotillion,” from a larger work, “Ramblin’ Suite.” The music is a traditional fiddle tune by the Red Clay Ramblers, and will be performed by a string quartet.

The four performances, and its auxiliary activities, capture what Chamber Dance Project and Bruning are all about. “I believe in collaboration, I believe that dance and music are transformative, that working with all kinds of musicians and dancers enlarges both music and dance,” she said.

The four performances — the season — is at the heart of some of Bruning’s core beliefs about the form. She believes it should be performed in small spaces, so that there’s more interaction with the audience, a sense of intimacy. She’s offered free open rehearsals and a Saturday matinee performance at 2 p.m., which includes a 20-minute workshop with the artists on stage.

“Dance is more than the classic works,” she said. Here this weekend, you get hip hop, you get a little country, you get a little jazz and a lot of often difficult, exciting dance. You get improvisation, you get physicality, and musicality, with dancers and musicians sharing a stage.

And you get a kind of life’s work for Bruning, who spent more than a decade in New York, was raised in Ohio and has provided choreography for the theater, for plays. She has the look of a rangy dancer, with plenty of enthusiasm, mixed with good grace and good humor.

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