The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating the first physical expansion in its 48-year history — a campus of dramatic pavilions dubbed the Reach — with 16 days of “creativity in action.” Over 500 free events featuring performances by roughly 1,000 artists will take place during the Reach Opening Festival, running through Sept. 22 (click here for the complete schedule).
Overlooking the Potomac River, the new campus is the setting for three matching white concrete-and-glass buildings with more than 130,000 square feet of space for artists and performances. The $250-million expansion includes modern rehearsal studios, classrooms and a large public plaza.
Free timed-entry passes can be reserved on the internet. Some of the sessions are already “sold out,” particularly on weekends. However, the Kennedy Center will be running standby lines for those who arrive without a ticket.
The Reach Opening Festival officially began on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 7, with an eclectic parade that wound along several Virginia Avenue blocks on its way to the Kennedy Center. Among the artists participating were Lubana Al-Quntar, the Hall Williams Band, Kazaxe, Ladygod, Soka Tribe, Mariachi El Rey, LeeAnet Noble & Team Vicious, Christina Piazza & Paul Bachmann and the Eastern High School Drumline.
The opening ceremony featured speeches by Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter, Chairman David Rubenstein, Mayor Muriel Bowser and soprano Renée Fleming. Kennedy Center Artistic Director and Vice President of Social Impact Marc Bamuthi Joseph dedicated the Reach with his “Re-Declaration of Creative Independence,” an original choral poem communally performed by Alfre Woodard, Tatiana Chavez, David Brooks, Rachel Martin and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain.
Renée Fleming invoked the spirit of John F Kennedy and his appreciation for culture and the arts, saying: “The word ‘art’ means simply the best of what we can achieve and put together as creative human beings, and this can exemplify that.”
View Jeff Malet’s images from the Reach opening ceremony and parade by clicking on the photo icons below.