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Scoop out Herman’s Head and fill it with Italian philosophers, add images of state power over the individual, and punctuate with “the dahnse,” and you have the gist of the Stanislavsky Theater Studio’s Princes & Principles. The philosophers are Niccolo Machiavelli, Renaissance author of The Prince and advocate of rule with an iron fist, and Cesare Beccaria, Enlightenment author of An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. Because both men’s works have become the tools of “whoever wishes to make use of us,” these famous paisanos are carrying on their debate inside the head of a politician preparing a speech, where they argue such issues as the death penalty. Beccaria gained fame for his lucid arguments against execution: It inures people to violence, and as a deterrent, swift, forgettable punishment pales in comparison with his recommendation, lifetime enslavement. Machiavelli, on the other hand, believes that “abuse of power doesn’t exist, only use of power.” And then, of course, there’s “the dahnse” (pictured). When the philosophers retreat from their arguments to contemplate each other’s point of view, author, director and choreographer Marco Pelle’s dancers interpret projected images of use of political powers great—Nazi marches—and small—an empty electric chair. As far as dancing about philosophy goes, perhaps Princes & Principles ranks second to 1990’s Nietzsche’s Lambada, but it certainly adds to the canon. Test your will to power at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 9, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Church Street Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. $20–$36. (800) 494-8497. (Janet Hopf)