Credit: Illustration by Maia Wyler

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ANNA OF THE NORTH

You can thank Anna of the North later, after she brings D.C. a performance of her quintessential breakup and comeback album. Despite songs titled “Time To Get Over It” and “Leaning On Myself,” her sophomore album Dream Girl isn’t entirely about a traditional breakup. Like her first release, Lovers, she hits on the details of her real-life breakup. In one song, “Used To Be,” she presumably is checking in on an ex, asking “how’s your sister?” as well as the universal post-breakup question “remember how we used to be?” But Dream Girl also represents Anna of the North becoming a true one-woman act, after Norway’s Anna Lotterud decided to part ways with her musical collaborator Brady Daniell-Smith. The two produced 2017’s Lovers as a duo, but Lotterud has since said their partnership weighed on her mentally. Now, Dream Girl is all about stepping out on her own, about finding confidence in the vulnerability. Her international tour is sure to bring the vibes of a major pop princess and the inspiration to get over even the most tender of heartbreaks. Feb. 13 at U Street Music Hall. $20. —Sarah Smith

SANGO

For the last decade, Soulection has been more than a collective, music label, and radio show: It’s also shorthand for a specific sound at the triple point of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music. A key proponent of the Soulection sound is Kai “Sango” Wright, a 28-year-old DJ-producer based in Seattle. A prolific talent, Sango distilled the genre-agnostic, groove-first sound on his 2018 album, In The Comfort Of, alongside frequent and like-minded collaborators Smino, Jean Deaux, Xavier Omär, and others. As an entry point for Soulection, you could do worse than the hour-long exploration of clattering beats, soulful melodies, and woozy instrumentation that have made the scene a favorite of groove-hungry millennials. Feb. 26 at U Street Music Hall. $25. —Chris Kelly

THE LUMINEERS

The Lumineers’ 2012 single “Ho Hey” became the anthem of young adults who wore flower crowns in the spring and hand-me-down flannels in the fall. A quick succession of hits, like “Ophelia” and “Stubborn Love,” kept the Denver-based folk rock band climbing the charts. But times have changed, and flower crowns and feel-good folk tunes seem to have dropped in popularity. For Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, The Lumineers’ founding members, this change has been apparent in many ways. Cellist Neyla Pekarek left the band in 2018, and the duo embraced an evolving sound. April 2019’s III is a three-part, almost cinematic take on family and addiction. Influenced by their own experiences with addiction and grief, the album explores the Sparks family through its three generations. Songs like “Gloria” and “Jimmy Sparks” show how alcoholism and the trauma it causes continue to impact a family, and stunning visuals—in partnership with Kevin Phillips (of Netflix’s Super Dark Times)—allow listeners to follow the Sparks family song by song. Despite the album’s somber messages, The Lumineers’ tour for III offers superfans a chance to reconnect with the band and new listeners a chance to relate to a moving narrative and powerful vocals. Feb. 28 at Capital One Arena. $35–$120. —Sarah Smith

OF MONTREAL

Kevin Barnes’ largely personal of Montreal are back at it with an album that might be their most vulnerable yet. In 2018, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood married intense dance tracks with the popular conspiracy that we are living in a simulated reality. For Barnes, this conspiracy resonated in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election and the Brexit vote. January 2020’s UR FUN is no less subtle. Lead single “Peace To All Freaks” opens with the carefree sound of a summer dance tune, as Barnes croons “don’t let’s be cynical” and “don’t let’s be bitter.” The upbeat, perfectly synthesized sound continues throughout UR FUN, even as songs like “Polyaneurism” and “Deliberate Self-harm Ha Ha” discuss weighty topics. The band’s 16th studio album, UR FUN is also one of the first to be recorded without collaboration from other musicians. For those who catch of Montreal’s tour, the shows will also be some of the first where Barnes takes the stage as himself, devoid of elaborate costumes or personas. And if getting lost in dancing isn’t enough, treat the concert as a lyrical I Spy game for obscure pop culture references. March 2 at 9:30 Club. $25. —Sarah Smith

MALIIBU MIITCH

Maliibu Miitch has done a lot with a little. With only a handful of songs to her name, the Bronx rapper has already made a name for herself in a rap world that suddenly reps a ton of women’s music after years of Nicki Minaj’s solo dominance. Miitch fits in nicely with artists like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, with a gruff, no-nonsense flow that pairs well with sparse beats, booming bass, and ear-worming melodies. “I’m with whatever who’s gon’ do the most, then I celebrate it with a toast,” she raps on her breakthrough single “Give Her Some Money.” In 2020, Maliibu Miitch could have even more to celebrate. March 6 at Songbyrd Music House. $16–$18. —Chris Kelly

NASTY CHERRY

Still just 27 years old, Charli XCX has checked most of the boxes in pop music, whether as a singer-songwriter of her own music or as a writer of hits for others. Last year, she added impresario to her resume, bringing together Nasty Cherry, an alt-pop four-piece that allowed Charli to play Diddy circa Making the Band. Nasty Cherry is equal parts The Runaways and Blondie, with a heavy dose of Charli-collaborator Sky Ferreira. With just an EP—and a starring role in Netflix docuseries I’m With The Band—Nasty Cherry have already proved themselves adept at dancing through songs like “Music With Your Dad” or belting ballads like “Live Forever.” March 8 at Union Stage. $18–$35. —Chris Kelly

SILVERSUN PICKUPS

In the last two decades a lot has changed for alternative-rock group Silversun Pickups. Brian Aubert, Nikki Monninger, Christopher Guanlao, and Joe Lester have produced chart-topping singles like “Lazy Eye” and “Panic Switch,” distinguished by Aubert’s vocals and a heavy synth sound. And in 2019, after four full-length albums, the band teamed up with Butch Vig to produce Widow’s Weeds. But something’s a bit different with the fifth release. The album’s “Don’t Know Yet” opens with the line “I need a fresh start now, reboot the machine.” Closing song “We Are Chameleons” seems to have a prophetic title; like the titular lizard, the Silversun Pickups are always changing. In post-debut interviews, Aubert has shed some light on this edgy theme. When Vig had to pause recording sessions for other musical commitments, the lead vocalist confronted a period of deep depression, which led him to seek treatment and get sober. Although he agrees with many critics that Widow’s Weeds has a “mournful” sound to it, he emphasizes that to him, the record is about change. With a refined sound and improving mental health, Silversun Pickups are back and better than ever for their nationwide tour. March 8 at 9:30 Club. $45. —Sarah Smith

ALGIERS

For a certain type of music nerd, there is a pleasure in throwing around esoteric subgenres. You can get into lengthy, passionate debates over whether a metal band is “death,” for example, while the average listener just thinks they’re noisy. Algiers are a band where esoteric vocabulary is the only way to describe them. They refer to themselves as “dystopian soul,” which sounds weird until you hear them. Songs like “The Underside of Power” have the vocal delivery and rhythm you might hear on a Motown song, except the tones are harder, almost like Nine Inch Nails or a punk band. This tension between pleasure and pain, pop and experimental, also comes across in their explosive live shows. Their new record, There Is No Year, is their best yet, so expect a ferocious show when they come to town. March 12 at Black Cat. $15. —Alan Zilberman

BLUE

The bar for racial awareness in opera is pretty low. This is not only a genre dominated by white singers, musicians, and directors, but one in which things that wouldn’t fly anywhere else still go on. Like blackface: For Verdi’s Otello, casting white singers in the title role is not only the norm, but New York’s Metropolitan Opera only ended its policy of using dark makeup on its white singers—still common for other opera companies—in 2015. Thankfully, the Washington National Opera actually cast a black tenor in a black role earlier this season, one devoted to artists of color. The highlight will be a newer opera, Blue, which portrays the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer and its aftermath, from longtime theater director Tazewell Thomas and composer Jeanine Tesori. Classic opera didn’t shy away from politics of its time; there’s no reason contemporary opera should either. March 15 to 28 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $35–$189. —Mike Paarlberg

BILLIE EILISH

Billie Eilish is the artist that most Gen Z teen pop stars wish they could be: weird, stylish, and extraordinary. Flaunting a fashionably androgynous look, oversized hoodies, basketball shorts, and neon-colored hair, Eilish has secured a place in the world for the weird kids. Her rise to fame happened organically. In 2015, she uploaded to SoundCloud “Ocean Eyes,” a dreamy pop ballad written and produced by her older brother, Finneas, and it went viral seemingly overnight. Finneas still produces all of Eilish’s music, preferring to record in their bedrooms instead of state-of-the-art studios. He artfully infuses dark, brooding pop music with non-musical sounds of the everyday world—the whir of dentist’s drill, the timer-ding of an Easy-Bake Oven, and quips from The Office—as Eilish sings barely above a whisper. Their sinister pop music has not only attracted a Gen Z audience from around the world, but also rock and roll legends, like Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, and Thom Yorke, who told her after a show, “You’re the only one doing anything fucking interesting nowadays.” March 18 at Capital One Arena. $275–$395. —Casey Embert

KEANE AND SAINT SISTER

Hopping across the pond, bands Keane and Saint Sister will be taking the stage together in D.C. at The Anthem. For Keane, the four-member band from Sussex, England, it’s been quite some time since the last album. The group of “Somewhere Only We Know” fame took a hiatus in 2013, and many, including the bandmates, weren’t sure if new music would ever be in the cards. But September 2019 brought Cause and Effect and the announcement of an international tour. Lead single “The Way I Feel” is poppy, the perfect rock song for a movie soundtrack or commercial. “Love Too Much” echoes the group’s signature sound, complete with a catchy beat and moving lyrics. Overall, the album has received generally positive feedback, and it will be nice to see the four-person group perform live once more. Joining Keane is Saint Sister, a lesser-known band consisting of Irish friends Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty. The pair is on tour to promote 2018’s Shape of Silence and a 2019 cover of The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame.” American listeners are sure to connect with their folksy sound and lovable tracks. March 27 at The Anthem. $50–$70. —Sarah Smith

THUNDERCAT

Thundercat is a sonic wizard of the modern day music scene. Born Stephen Bruner, Thundercat is a former bass player for the Los Angeles punk band Suicidal Tendencies, and has lent his musical talents to high-profile artists like Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, and Erykah Badu. But with three full-length albums behind him, Thundercat has established his signature sound: a soulful falsetto uplifted by a funky fusion of jazz, hip-hop, and electro-pop. It all comes to life onstage, where he sports custom-made clothing—like a Dragon Ball Z suit—while rocking a six-string bass and improvising through his catalog of animated melodies. Thundercat’s fourth studio album, It Is What It Is, arrives in April and features contributions from Childish Gambino, Kamasi Washington, and BADBADNOTGOOD. March 28 at The Fillmore Silver Spring. $27. —Casey Embert

PETER BJORN AND JOHN 

Think back to the halcyon days of 2006. This was when 14th Street NW still had an edge to it, and you could smoke indoors. Back then the word “hipster” was a four-letter word (now it’s meaningless). It was easy for onlookers to question your commitment to the scene, particularly in music, because liking a certain subset of bands was seen as posturing. From the ashes of that pile of indie rock, the Peter Bjorn and John song “Young Folks” is one of the few with true mainstream appeal. Go ahead and put it on: Those bongos and that whistling might as well function as a time machine. Want to continue in those good vibes? Check out Peter Bjorn and John live at Union Stage. They miss those halcyon days, too. April 8 at Union Stage. $25–$40. —Alan Zilberman

LITTLE DRAGON

After debuting with the melancholy masterpiece “Twice,” Little Dragon could have hung it up and retired as one of pop’s greatest one-hit-wonder acts. But thankfully, the Swedish four-piece has soldiered on, with Erik Bodin, Fredrik Wallin, and Håkan Wirenstrand weaving together disparate strands of neo-soul, trip-hop, and synth-pop as a tapestry for enchanting vocalist Yukimi Nagano. The group’s fourth album, Nabuma Rubberband, leaned heavily on Janet Jackson slow jams as inspiration, and 2017’s Season High doubled down on ’80s nostalgia, nodding not just to Jackson, but Prince and Sade. Plus, the band found a successful sideline as go-to features for everyone from Gorillaz and Big Boi to Flying Lotus and Kaytranada. April 15 at 9:30 Club. $35. —Chris Kelly

MURA MASA

For his second album under his Mura Masa alias, Alex Crossan released something—R.Y.C., short for Raw Youth Collage—that does exactly what it says on the tin, as his fellow Brits say. Rather than the glittering electronica of his early SoundCloud hits, the 23-year-old favored layers of gentle guitar riffs, synthesizer chirps, emo melodies, and barely-there beats, offering spoken word lyrics or sharing the microphone with the likes of Clairo, Slowthai, Georgia, and others. The result feels indebted to The Streets and The Postal Service, acts that offered raw youth collages when Crossan was still an elementary schooler. May 6 at The Fillmore Silver Spring. $30. —Chris Kelly

MONTY ALEXANDER

It’s hard to overstate the panorama of American music that pianist Monty Alexander represents. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Alexander was inspired by the local concerts of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Duke Ellington; worked with Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, and Dizzy Gillespie; accompanied blues singer Ernestine Anderson; and was close friends with Miles Davis. The Americana on his resume is made all the more profound by the fact that he has pointedly never forgotten his Jamaican roots. Another of his longtime close collaborators was guitarist Ernest Ranglin, an early calypso master who helped to pioneer the sounds of ska and reggae, and Alexander matches his friend for knowledge of Jamaican music’s nuances and history. Better still, he works them into his own jazz playing with an assurance and richness that remain unmatched. May 7 to 10 at Blues Alley. $45. —Michael J. West

TERRY AND GYAN RILEY

Composer Terry Riley is one of the fathers of minimalism, a rigidly and even stoically repetitive school of music. He is also the father of guitarist Gyan Riley, a talented composer in his own right. The younger Riley takes the basic precepts of minimalism as his starting point, but lets them develop over time into lush sonic sprawls. How do the two Rileys reconcile their distinct styles when they appear together on the performing stage (with Terry at the piano)? Why, the way musicians have done the world over and since ages past: with improvisation. They still make use of the older Riley’s inflexible vamps and the younger’s looser tendrils, mind you. Yet have no illusion that being aware of their foundation makes their music in any way predictable. May 9 at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. $40. —Michael J. West

BIKINI KILL

Bikini Kill pioneered the riot grrrl movement of the early ’90s, infusing feminist values into the punk and hardcore scenes, spaces historically dominated by men. The riot grrrl movement inspired women to form bands, make zines, and get involved with politics in order to not just consume culture, but to create it. Led by iconic feminist and vocalist Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill fearlessly confronted capitalism, sexual abuse, and the patriarchy. “Girls to the front” became the band’s rallying cry and ethos, providing a safe space from aggressive, moshing men at the shows. Bikini Kill disbanded in 1997 with no plans to tour or record ever again. But the political turmoil of the Trump era has summoned Bikini Kill back to life. After reuniting for a short run of shows in Brooklyn and Los Angeles last summer, Bikini Kill will embark on their first North American tour in over 20 years. May 10 and 12 at The Fillmore Silver Spring. $39.50. —Casey Embert

CHANNEL TRES

If there’s a 2020 revival of hip house, Channel Tres will be leading the way. Since his out-of-nowhere debut in 2018, the Compton native has been bringing hip-hop swagger to deep house music. He established himself as the “Controller” on his self-titled EP, nonchalantly cooing pronouncements and instructions like “throw some sub in that bitch” over looping grooves that slap and soothe in equal measure. Last year’s Black Moses was anchored by “Sexy Black Timberlake,” a dance track kissed with G-funk that satirizes the sexualized role black men play in the American conscience. “I used to ask for change in the streets,” he raps on “Black Moses,” “Now  I’m changin’ the streets”—and the club, too. May 16 at U Street Music Hall. $12–$20. —Chris Kelly

AWOLNATION

It’s time for D.C. to set “Sail” and enjoy some edgy rock vibes when AWOLNATION comes to town. Almost a decade after the band fronted by Aaron Bruno released its debut album Megalithic Symphony, AWOLNATION is taking on a multi-city tour for its fourth full-length album. Although the group has yet to release the album in question, their Lightning Riders Tour is fueling fan excitement, as they announced plans to perform around the country with Andrew McMahon, The Beaches, and Bleeker. As the first album on a new label (Better Noise Music) and one of the first since Bruno led the group toward more guitar-driven music, there’s a lot of unknowns. But singles “The Best” and “California Halo Blue” offer AWOLNATION’s signature upbeat, catchy choruses, and a cover of “Drive” by The Cars is also gaining traction. What’s more, speculation that Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) and Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) collaborated on the album guarantee that the star-studded tour will be one you don’t want to miss. May 26 at The Anthem. $39.50–$75. —Sarah Smith

FUTURE SKETCHES

Pretty much every major corporation is rolling out some “next-generation” innovation. Self-driving cars, gene-editing therapies, and 5G smartphones are fodder for tech headlines and smart investors, but more than that, they represent the evolving intersection of computation and design, and that of humans and computers. But this future-shaping work is often kept in laboratories and startup offices, and the general public is left waiting for these inventions to hit the shelves. For Zach Lieberman, a self-described software artist and the co-creator of openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit, it’s important to bring that innovation back to everyday people. That’s why he created Future Sketches, a three-part exhibition focused on coding and body and facial augmentation. You’re sure to get lost in ARTECHOUSE’s trippy basement, exploring how computers can help you transform your body and voice. Plus, the installation’s rainbow colors will no doubt brighten up any dreary day. Jan. 17 to March 1 at ARTECHOUSE. $8–$20. —Sarah Smith

AGE OLD CITIES: A VIRTUAL JOURNEY FROM PALMYRA TO MOSUL

President Donald Trump’s threat in January to attack Iranian cultural sites if Iran were to harm Americans never came to pass—it probably would have qualified as a war crime—but the incident offered a timely reminder of the dangers archaeological treasures face in the often unstable Middle East. In a high-tech, immersive exhibit, Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art will be showing large-scale projections and 3D reconstructions of damaged monuments in the region, along with conversations with Iraqis and Syrians who know the sites well. The showcase won’t offer much direct protection to ancient sites on the ground, but it could provide a way to expose the sites to larger audiences and, perhaps, strengthen the wider moral case for their preservation. To Oct. 25 at the National Museum of Asian Art. Free. —Louis Jacobson

VOLKMAR WENTZEL

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Volkmar Wentzel, a Dresden, Germany-born photographer, was based for much of his adult life in Washington, D.C., save a stint in an artists’ community in Aurora, West Virginia, during the Great Depression and service in the Army Air Corps during World War II. For 48 years, Wentzel worked for National Geographic, photographing people, animals, and landscapes on multiple continents for the society and its magazine. One of Wentzel’s unheralded achievements—according to Leah Bendavid-Val, the curator of this American University Museum retrospective and a former Nat Geo colleague—was his effort to save for posterity thousands of photographs targeted under the society’s (later-rescinded) policy of throwing out its archival negatives. To May 24 at the American University Museum. Free. —Louis Jacobson

CATHARINE CZUDEJ: HOMEOWNER

Housing might be the singular urban crisis of the early century. Wealthier, whiter, and older residents mobilize against the prospect of affordable housing in their neighborhoods, while activists, socialists, and advocates denounce market-rate housing as neoliberalism. With HOMEOWNER, a project at von ammon co, Catharine Czudej hopes to tap into this disorder of the urban medulla oblongata to reveal a national psychic meltdown. For this immersive installation, the artist is inflating a full-scale bouncy castle inside the gallery, summoning a potent totem from both suburban backyard birthday gatherings and uptown residential block parties. Czudej has swapped out the bright primary colors of the typical inflatable kingdom for custom advertorial content. Each vinyl panel in HOMEOWNER comprises some kind of billboard ad that testifies to the rigors of adulthood: personal injury lawyers, retirement accounts, liquor, and so on. Sure, these artifacts touch on age-old narratives about the loss of innocence. But today, even the trappings of middle age—the mortgage, the retirement account, the garage—are unavailable to millennials. HOMEOWNER shows how a new national crisis, a war between generations over geography, looms over the country. Feb. 8 to March 21 at von ammon co. Free. —Kriston Capps

ARCHITECTURE IN FIBER

The Potomac Fiber Arts Guild includes more than 300 fiber artists who weave, embroider, quilt, crochet, knit, and incorporate other sculptural materials into their textile work. Sculpture is an especially important theme for the guild’s February show in their Torpedo Factory Art Center gallery space—the first fiber art gallery in the D.C. metro area, established in 1974. Architecture in Fiber, a juried exhibition of innovative fiber art that takes inspiration from local and international buildings and landmarks, will show structural works from the guild’s members. These works are also a reminder that wearable textiles and fabric make up a kind of personal architecture by forming structures around our bodies. Feb. 13 to March 5 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Free. —Emma Sarappo

GRACIELA ITURBIDE’S MEXICO

A 50-year retrospective on Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide comes to the National Museum of Women in the Arts for a short stay this spring, after a celebrated run at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Known for her poetic style, Iturbide began her career as a photographer in Mexico City as a way to cope with the death of her young daughter. She soon developed an ethnographic practice photographing Indigenous women across Mexico and has also explored the Mexican diaspora, capturing life at the U.S.-Mexico border as well as Texan landscapes and the Mexican-American community of East Los Angeles. This exhibition includes Iturbide’s 2005 photo essay “Frida’s Bathroom,” a rare look at items left untouched inside Frida Kahlo’s house, La Casa Azul, since her death in 1954. The collection verifies the strong connection between the two women, as both Kahlo and Iturbide turned their private pain into public artistry while depicting the minutiae of Mexican life. Feb. 28 to May 25 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. $8–$10. —Mercedes Hesselroth

JOHN SINGER SARGENT: PORTRAITS IN CHARCOAL 

Fin de siècle portraitist John Singer Sargent made his name with a series of lush, realistic oil paintings depicting some of the richest assholes in Europe. But in 1907, at the peak of his fame and overwhelmed by the plutocracy’s demand for his talents, Sargent abandoned oil portraiture in favor of dashed-off charcoal sketches that he could finish in a single afternoon. (Live your best life, John Singer Sargent!) Though less detailed and careful than his oil paintings, the best of these drawings are just as intimate and arguably livelier than Sargent’s fancier work. He completed hundreds of them before his death in 1925, many of which have rarely been displayed in public. A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery turns a curatorial eye on this oft-overlooked segment of Sargent’s career. Feb. 28 to May 31 at the National Portrait Gallery. Free. —Justin Peters

CREATING ICONS: HOW WE REMEMBER WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

This year, D.C.’s full of exhibitions commemorating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but one especially worth the time is the National Museum of American History’s Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage, which casts a critical eye on how the fight for suffrage is remembered 100 years on. As any attentive student of history knows, the amendment didn’t “give women the right to vote”—it guaranteed the right for white women only, and many of the white suffragists who are given the most credit in winning the fight were avowed racists, including Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul. Suffrage was also not won through a polite meeting of minds: Many suffragists, like Paul, carried out campaigns of civil disobedience and hunger strikes (which were met with brutal force-feeding). Creating Icons promises to rethink whose stories are told and how they are remembered, and how that memory affects our collective politics today. March 6 to March 7, 2021 at the National Museum of American History. Free.  —Emma Sarappo

ELIZABETH WITHSTANDLEY: SEARCHING FOR THE MIRACULOUS

In 1975, an artist named Bas Jan Ader set sail from Chatham, Massachusetts, heading toward Falmouth, England, as part of an artwork he titled “In Search of the Miraculous.” He never made it. Instead, his sailboat, with no trace of his body, washed up about 150 nautical miles from the Irish coast, and since then, his disappearance has fascinated the art world. Now, Los Angeles-based artist Elizabeth Withstandley uses Ader’s doomed journey as the linchpin of her own exhibition, Searching for the Miraculous, a triptych of videos that explore Ader’s journey through a new lens. Withstandley set out on her own transatlantic journey from Newark, New Jersey, to Liverpool, England, over 10 days, then ended up in Cushendall, Northern Ireland. The journey is documented in “Part 2” of the exhibition, a video that metaphorically takes the viewer along with the artist. By echoing yet changing Ader’s journey, Withstandley asks viewers to contemplate what is real, how to seek and how to find enlightenment, and whether something better is really out there. March 21 to May 17 at VisArts. Free. —Emma Sarappo

“1.8 RENWICK”

Sculptor and fiber artist Janet Echelman captivated Instagram users around D.C. in 2015 when one of her fiber and lighting installations helped reopen the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. Her “1.8 Renwick,” a carefully knotted net of pink and orange and yellow fiber was perfect for the interactive, photo-encouraging WONDER exhibition. And now, “1.8” will revisit the Renwick once more, adorning its Rubenstein Grand Salon. Although it’s easy enough to admire the installation’s dreamy web, its backstory is even more fascinating. Echelman says she was inspired by the events of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one of the largest earthquakes over the last century. According to data recorded March 11, 2011, in the aftermath of the quake, the day was shortened by 1.8 millionths of a second. For Echelman, this event illustrates the relationship between daily existence and larger cycles of time. Just as moving one piece of her fiber would move the whole maze, a brief event essentially altered the passage of time. April 3 to Aug. 14, 2022 at the Renwick Gallery. Free. —Sarah Smith

ONE WITH ETERNITY: YAYOI KUSAMA IN THE HIRSHHORN COLLECTION

Again? Already? It was only three years ago that the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden put on Infinity Mirrors, a blockbuster tribute to Yayoi Kusama that drew a record million-plus visitors. There’s a good chance you were there: More people waited in line for a 20-second glimpse at the Japanese artist’s mirror rooms than even live in the District. That show traveled to Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto, Cleveland, and Atlanta, making it a verified smash. And in the digital realm, the proliferation of polka-dotted, pumpkin-patch selfies on social apps and dating profiles reached a nearly unbounded state of ubiquity. It’s safe to say that folks have a handle on Kusama now, but fuck it—we’re doing the pumpkins again. One With Eternity focuses on artworks in the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection, namely two mirror rooms, sculptures, an early painting, and photographs of the artist. Kusama redux comes with one fewer hall of mirrors, no all-over dot-sticker installation, and a lot less work in two dimensions. Still, One With Eternity offers a second chance for the folks who missed Kusama-rama the first time around. Once more, with feeling? April 4 to Sept. 20 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Free. —Kriston Capps

RISE 2020

Legend holds that Arthur Mitchell, famed principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, was moved to found his own company in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. That company began in a converted garage and eventually became the renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem, a haven for dancers of color. A Dance Theatre of Harlem principal dancer, Kevin Thomas, serves as the artistic director of his own company Collage Dance Collective, and has set out to further that mission. Collage Dance Collective offers ballet training and advocates for improving racial diversity onstage from its home base in Memphis. At THEARC Theater, Collage Dance Collective dancers will showcase their skills with their own professional dancers and future dance stars. Feb. 14 to 15 at THEARC Theater. $32.50. —Mary Scott Manning

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY: The EVE Project

Martha Graham’s legacy in the dance world is astounding. Her Graham technique mothered American modern dance, creating a new worldwide curriculum for dancers. And today, the Martha Graham Dance Company keeps her legacy alive, performing her original choreography and creating new pieces in her signature style. But dance, like any art form, is evolving under the influence of modern social and political issues. So in 2020, as the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women their right to vote, draws near, her company will be performing iconic dances Diversion of Angels, Ekstasis, and Chronicle, along with new pieces Untitled (Souvenir) and Lamentation Variations, in The EVE Project at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. While these performances each represent an aspect of female power, the company’s role in shaping dance doesn’t end onstage. The Martha Graham Dance Company will also be hosting a post-performance talk after each show. March 5 to 7 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $25–$69. —Sarah Smith

LOVE HEALS ALL WOUNDS

In September 2016, artist Alexa Meade released Color of Reality, a short film featuring movement artists Lil Buck and Jon Boogz. The piece opens with the two men covered in paint. They sit on a couch, also covered in paint, listening to grainy news coverage of police brutality and national violence. In response, they get up and dance, anxiety evident in their bodies, pain on their faces. The pair’s upcoming show, Love Heals All Wounds, expands upon these themes and introduces empathy as a uniting force. Lil Buck dances jookin, a wavy form of street dance born in Memphis, Tennessee. Jon Boogz does popping, a style built on fast muscle contractions. Together they will perform at the GW Lisner Auditorium, uniting their styles and, hopefully, the audience. May 1 at the GW Lisner Auditorium. $30–$50. —Mary Scott Manning

MICHELLE BUTEAU

In 2019, Michelle Buteau snagged a breakout role in the Ali Wong-led Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe, as Wong’s character’s best friend Veronica. She also starred in BET’s TV remake of The First Wives Club with Jill Scott and Ryan Michelle Bathe. She was in another Netflix film, Someone Great, alongside lead Gina Rodriguez. She co-hosted WYNC’s podcast Adulting. And, on top of all that, she became a mom to twins last January. The energy required to juggle two 1-year-olds and a skyrocketing career is perhaps understandable if you watch Buteau’s stand-up, where she employs dozens of elastic facial expressions to make a point and isn’t afraid to deliver a punchline forcefully. But on stage, Buteau’s energy isn’t wasted: She makes a point to conserve it, staying controlled and collected until the joke calls for something jarring. Now, she’s getting the name and face recognition she deserves—and she’s coming to D.C. with a group of accolades under her belt. Feb. 13 at The Big Hunt. $20. —Emma Sarappo

MAIRA KALMAN

In 1933, Gertrude Stein, living in Paris, set out to write a bestseller. She penned a book that was nominally about the life of her partner Alice B. Toklas, but was really about Stein and their lives together, just framed in Toklas’ voice. (Within six weeks of its release, Stein copped to writing it.) It’s a tender, irreverent classic that displays Stein’s cheek and chronicles the waning days of the modernist world that surrounded Stein and Toklas in Paris. Now, artist Maira Kalman brings Gertrude, Alice, and their Parisian social circle—including luminaries like Picasso, Hemingway, Eliot, and Matisse—back to life in her new illustrated edition of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Kalman’s long been besotted by the famous couple; they’ve shown up in her other works, like the cookbook Cake and her book Beloved Dog. She’s also no stranger to sprucing up an old work with her vibrant illustrations: Her 2005 illustrated edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is one of the most popular versions of the classic. Here, Kalman’s paintings add a grounded sense of there-ness to a work famous for the line “There is no there there.” March 8 at Politics and Prose. Free. —Emma Sarappo

JUDITH HEUMANN

“Some people say that what I did changed the world,” writes Judith Heumann, a global icon of disability rights activism and local resident who’s held high posts in the federal and D.C. governments. “But really, I simply refused to accept what I was told about who I could be. And I was willing to make a fuss about it.” Full of life in spunky, clarion prose, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist shares her history of a multitude of heroes in a civil rights movement as it gathered energy and force. It also nimbly describes the feelings, thoughts, decisions, actions, and ultimately values that guided her at every step—from the painful insights of early childhood to suing the New York City Board of Education for her teaching license at 22 to leading a takeover of the San Francisco Federal Building until the first federal regulations prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities were signed, in what became known as the 504 sit-in. Published during the 30th anniversary year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it shows new and future generations how they, too, can fight in this world where they have to. March 3 at Politics and Prose. Free. —Diana Michele Yap

AN ARMENIAN ODYSSEY

The National Gallery of Art is partnering with the Embassy of Armenia to present the film series An Armenian Odyssey, telling stories from a country that’s been savaged by civil war, genocide, and occupation. Most of these films draw from folk art traditions, including animation and dreamlike pictographs. One highlight is Zangezur, a film from 1938 directed by Hamo Beknazarian, who stands alongside contemporaries like Sergei Eisenstein, accompanied with a score from Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian. Another highlight is Four Acts for Syria, an animated film that weaves cutting-edge animation alongside hallucinatory hand-drawn techniques. Over the course of several shorts and feature-length films, the NGA highlights how turmoil cannot fully stifle a country’s capacity for great art. Feb. 29 to March 14 at the National Museum of Asian Art and the National Gallery of Art. Free. —Alan Zilberman

THE WIND WILL CARRY US

The Wind Will Carry Us begins with a meandering drive to a village in rural Iran and stays there for the rest of the film. “Hangout movies” are defined by their slow pace, but this 1999 film makes Clerks or Rio Bravo look positively frenetic. We go to tea with our protagonist, known to the villagers as “the Engineer.” We watch him shave. We suffer with him through awkward phone calls with his boss, all the while waiting for something to happen. In the meantime, we explore every nook and cranny of the village and soak in the beauty of the Iranian countryside. Through incidental dribbles of information, we learn that the Engineer is not an engineer at all. Though he tells the villagers he has come to install a telecom system, his true purpose has something to do with a terminally ill woman who lives nearby. We never see the woman—only her blue shuttered window and the visitors who come and go from her bedside. The Engineer monitors her condition as closely as he can without giving himself away. He’s waiting too. Feb. 22 and 23 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. $8–$13. —Will Lennon

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

Two wars and two women are central to Ursula Rani Sarma’s stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s 2007 novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. As the Afghan Civil War breaks out in the early 1990s, Laila (Mirian Katrib) finds herself orphaned and alone in Kabul. Her neighbor Rasheed (Haysam Kadri) and his wife Mariam (Hend Ayoub) take her in, but life during times of chaos is not easy. War gives way to the rise of the Taliban, and then to the occupation of Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Through all this, Laila and Mariam share a husband, child-raising responsibilities, and more broadly, life as women during turbulent and oppressive times. It was the story of Laila and Mariam that inspired Sarma to transform Hosseini’s novel into a play, now directed by Carey Perloff, the American Conservatory Theater’s former artistic director. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of family, war, community, and culture, and a post-show discussion will allow audience members even more engagement with the gripping story. To March 1 at Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater. $56–$72. —Sarah Smith

HEROINE: ONE FEMALE SOLDIER’S STORY

“Can peace ever be possible?” This question—and the sexual trauma it references—are at the heart of Heroine: one female soldier’s story. Based on true events, Scotland’s Mary Jane Wells and Susan Worsfold team up to share what happened to Danna Davis, the fictionalized version of a real soldier in the U.S. Army. When Davis is overseas, she is serving both as her company’s lone woman and a lesbian during the time of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Davis is then raped by four of her fellow soldiers, including one of her superiors. Following her assault, classified as a military sexual trauma, she must serve with one of her perpetrators on a secret mission in the Middle East. According to Wells, the actress and writer of this one-woman show, Heroine serves as both a therapeutic and potentially challenging piece, as it conjures symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other aspects of the healing process. For its U.S. premiere at the Kennedy Center, Heroine will unpack what it means to forgive, especially when lives are at stake. Feb. 12 to 14 at the Kennedy Center Family Theater. $25–$45. —Sarah Smith

THIS BITTER EARTH

This Bitter Earth comes to town after its 2017 premiere at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center. The play, written by award-winning playwright Harrison David Rivers and named for the famous Dinah Washington song, follows an interracial gay couple—Jesse, who is black, and Neil, who is white—at odds over the role of activism and race in their lives. They clash as headlines announce the deaths of more unarmed black men and Neil, an outspoken Black Lives Matter activist, asks his boyfriend why he’s not more outspoken about injustice. This run, directed by Otis Ramsey-Zöe, marks the play’s first appearance in D.C. after its appearances at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Penumbra Theatre and Chicago’s About Face Theatre. Reviewer Kelsey McGrath wrote in 2018 “This Bitter Earth will stop your heart … rarely is such an authentic queer, biracial relationship explored on stage, making Bitter Earth real in a striking way … This play is important. It’s real. Go see it.” Feb. 22 to March 22 at Anacostia Playhouse. $20–$40. —Kennedy Whitby

PASS OVER

Playwright Antoinette Nwandu gives young black men waiting on their street corner, left with no place to go and no community, the attention they deserve in Pass Over, a play that has the existential ennui of Waiting for Godot but with modern urgency. In plays like this and the recent Pipeline, Studio Theatre looks to give voices to people who are often voiceless, and it articulates common struggles that are rarely discussed. Spike Lee recently directed an adaptation of Pass Over, but it would be a waste to stream a film when theater is so much more visceral and immediate. March 4 to April 12 at Studio Theatre. $60–$80. —Alan Zilberman

GUYS AND DOLLS

Like oil and vinegar, illegal craps games and evangelism are subjects that won’t come together naturally. Only in the fictional New York of Damon Runyon that inspires Guys and Dolls do such disparate topics blend well. Countless audiences have seen the musical about the suave gambler Sky Masterson, his scheming pal Nathan Detroit, Nathan’s devoted and explosive fiancee, Adelaide, and the pious Sarah Brown at a high school or community theater, and many more fondly remember the 1955 film adaptation featuring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. So why should locals make a point of seeing Ford’s Theatre’s new production of a musical whose songs have wormed their way into the American songbook? To paraphrase Sky Masterson, it’s all about chemistry. Seeing one of the great works of American musical theatre performed at a national historic site in the center of the U.S. capital is about as classic a Washington concoction as you can get, given that the person sitting next to you could be a high school student on a class trip or a Supreme Court justice. You’ll be singing and dancing along before you know it. March 13 to May 20 at Ford’s Theatre. $34–$86. —Caroline Jones

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

A Gospel-inspired account of Jesus’ last days, a rock opera soundtrack, and a dramatized narration of Judas Iscariot’s actions and those of his fellow disciples—what more could you want? Well, there’s no better way to celebrate Easter Sunday than with a trip to the Kennedy Center to see Jesus Christ Superstar. And you can do just that, when the iconic musical takes the stage April 14 as part of its birthday bash. That’s right, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s show is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a tour of North America. Directed by Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Drew McOnie, this ridiculous production is sure to give you plenty of laughs. Aaron LaVigne (Rent, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) takes the stage as the titular Jesus and James Delisco Beeks (Kinky Boots, Aida) stars as Judas. While you certainly couldn’t call Jesus Christ Superstar a strict interpretation of the Bible, you at least know how the story ends. April 14 to 26 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. $39–$159. —Sarah Smith 

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

It’s 1590. Queen Elizabeth I rules over England with “the heart and stomach of a king”—but no one in this England is “a weak and feeble woman,” since it’s a total matriarchy. That’s the world of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s re-imagined production of The Taming of the Shrew, which comes to the Kennedy Center on its world tour. In this gender-bent version of the classic Shakespeare play, Baptista Minola hopes to sell her sons off into good marriages, but while one is the very model of a demure young man, the other is headstrong, willful, independent, and everything a boy shouldn’t be. By reversing the roles in a Shakespeare play that’s launched a thousand theses on gender, misogyny, and marriage in Elizabethan England, the company hopes to refocus The Taming of the Shrew’s battle of the sexes into a commentary on asymmetrical power in contemporary life. May 6 to 10 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $39–$129. —Emma Sarappo

FUN HOME

No bad seat exists at Studio Theatre. Its intimate stages keep audiences close, at times creating the sensation that they’re involved in the action onstage. While this intimacy is generally good, in most cases, I am wary of what will happen during Fun Home, Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s tragicomic graphic memoir about queer identity, family, and funerals that will almost certainly make me ugly-cry. In that situation, I might like a little space to collect myself. Kron, who wrote the musical’s book and lyrics, transfers the honesty Bechdel draws in every block to the stage with care, and Tesori’s music is goofy and joyous one moment, tender and heartbreaking the next. (I dare you to play “Ring of Keys” and not feel the emotions pour out of you.) The casting calls for a combination of adult and child performers, so prepare to be felled and wowed by the talents of youth. May 13 to June 21 at Studio Theatre. $20–$98. —Caroline Jones

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