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There’s not much that can match dance’s ability to wordlessly draw an immediate, visceral reaction in an audience. But there’s a flipside, too: Dance can only say so much. Try dancing about environmental justice or the latest gridlock in Congress—it’s been done, and it’s not pretty. But Marc Bamuthi Joseph is special. The dancer-storyteller-teacher has got it all: Watch him move onstage, his limbs liquid but barely containing his energy, and there’s no doubt the guy’s a real dancer. But then, still moving, he opens his mouth and starts spinning tales that are part prose, part poetry, and fully captivating. This afternoon, Joseph takes on a few of his favorite subjects, sustainable living and the history of hip-hop among them. But with his keen sense of presence and an inviting vulnerability, he could be giving a lecture on the benefits of proper oral hygiene for all it matters: He’d still have the audience in his pocket.
MARC BAMUTHI JOSEPH PERFORMS “THE SPOKEN WORD” AT 4 P.M. (ALSO SATURDAY AT 8 p.m.) AT DANCE PLACE, 3225 8TH ST. NE. $22. (202) 269-1600.