Bowen McCauley Dance at 25 Takes Final Bow at Kennedy Center (photos)

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”  Merce Cunningham

Bowen McCauley Dance Company closed out its 25th and final season with a bang at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 14. 

The Arlington Va. non-profit, which has developed a sizable fan base in the DC Metro area, wanted to exit on a high note – and judging by the audience reaction, they did not disappoint.

The silver anniversary finale featured three world premieres, international guests artists and live musical accompaniment. “Live music not only is a strong element to BMDC’s performances but is an integral part of our guiding philosophy,” says Artistic Director and Choreographer Lucy Bowen McCauley. 

It was to be the first public performance of any kind inside the Eisenhower Theater since the Kennedy Center went dark on March 12 of last year due to the COVID-19 emergency.

McCauley and Composer Erberk Eryilmaz reunited for their second collaboration with the world premiere of “Insistent Music” a rhythmic and choreographic tour de force with the new composition, written especially for Lucy, and featuring eight Company dancers and five musicians from Hoppa Project (Evie Chen, Bree Ahern, Korine Anne Fujiwara, Marisa Ishikawa) with Eryilmaz on piano and Turkish folk percussion. Set, costume and lighting design by William H. Brakefield, Alicia Curtis and Martha Mountain respectively.  

The second world premiere, “Imago” featured six songs from German/Croatian Composer, Nikola Glassl, played live by the Composer’s grandson and the Company’s pianist, Nikola Paskalov with soprano, Karin Paludan.

The third world premiere and U.S. debut of guest artist, Manish Chauhan of India was choreographed by Igal Perry, the Artistic Director of Peridance Studio in NYC. He was accompanied on stage by percussionist Broto Roy on the tabla, a traditional Indian instrument. Manish has received notoriety in his country with the Netflix film release about his life, Yeh Ballet”. His performance at the Kennedy Center will be included in a new film – Call Me Dancer” (Shampaine Films) – documenting his unlikely rise from the streets of Mumbai, India, to the Kennedy Center stage, overcoming enormous socio-economic barriers and family pressure to pursue a career in professional ballet. It is scheduled for release on December 2021. (Check-out the film trailer at

The program opened with a reprise of “Exuberant Fanfare,” McCauley’s choreographed dance piece set to the music of Igor Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne’ from ‘Pulcinella’ and played live by violinist, Leonid Sushansky and pianist, Carlos Cesar Rodriguez of the National Chamber Ensemble. The second reprise, “Trois Rêves” created during COVID was an artful series of dance pieces with no partnering or touching and was set to Maurice Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit” for piano with piano accompaniment by Paskalov.

The second guest artist, Kardelen Turkish Dance Ensemble of Washington, DC shared an authentic traditional folk dance set to Miniatures Set No. 1, 5, and 6 for Violin and Turkish Folk Percussion by Eryilmaz and Evie Chen.

In its 25-year history, Bowen McCauley Dance Company continued to fulfill its mission of “introducing people of all ages to the joy of dance,” not just throughout the D.C. Metro area, but as far away as China, Mexico, and Germany. McCauley has choreographed more than 100 original pieces and provided a ready platform for outstanding dancers, musicians and guest choreographers.

In line with its commitment to community service, BMDC’s K-12 program has reached thousands of students through residency programs in D.C., Virginia and Maryland schools. And BMDC is the only company in the Washington area to provide free weekly dance classes for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners – “Dance for PD.” Since 2009, BMDC has served more than 800 people living with Parkinson’s as part of the program and will continue. Mark Morris Dance Group’s David Leventhal announced a partnership between Lucy and The Kennedy Center to continue free Dance for Parkinson’s Disease classes. Earlier this year, BMDC announced a similar partnership with the Maryland Youth Ballet and George Mason University’s School of Dance. This triad of partnerships will ensure that Dance for PD classes continue to be accessible throughout the DC Metro area. (For more information about the free Dance for PD program, click here.)

Between performances, Virginia State Senator Barbara A. Favola presented McCauley with a framed copy of Virginia Senate Resolution No. 742 “as an expression of the Senate of Virginia’s admiration for the organization’s contributions to the performing arts and cultural life in Northern Virginia.”

Jeff Malet has been a principal photographer for Bowen McCauley Dance Company for over 12 years. View a slideshow of his photos from BMDC’s Silver Anniversary Finale at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater by clicking on the photo icons below.






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