Credit: Photo courtesy of Russell Jenkins

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Imagine you’re a famous artist who’s been asked to create a performance piece about a man born 200 years ago—someone who changed the course of history and is viewed as one of this country’s greatest leaders. You’re hoping to reach back through time and grasp, beneath the rhetoric and apocryphal stories and endless spinning, this person’s authentic character. Oh, and you’ve got to present it using the body in motion as your chief canvas. That was the assignment given to Bill T. Jones, one of the country’s preeminent choreographers, two years ago on the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. In response, he created “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray,” an ambitious dance piece that takes on Lincoln’s life and legacy. In it, Jones explores what the country might’ve looked like had Lincoln lived a little longer, and wonders how, as a black man, his life has been affected by the 16th president. Unsurprisingly, the piece is a rumination on politics and race—but it’s also got some mighty fine dancing, including a romantic as hell duet between a lithe young president-to-be and his beautiful new wife.

FONDLY DO WE HOPE…FERVENTLY DO WE PRAY” IS ON STAGE AT 8 P.M. THURSDAY, FEB 24 AND FRIDAY, FEB. 25 AT THE KENNEDY CENTER EISENHOWER THEATER, 2700 F ST. NW. $22-$65; FRIDAY SOLD OUT. (202) 467-4600.