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Though a passing proficiency with Spanish might enhance one’s enjoyment of the Kennedy Center’s “AmericArtes: Espíritu de Puerto Rico,” it’s certainly not necessary. This celebration of island culture features English-supertitled theater, plus art, literature, music, and dance events—all with universal elements. Singer Gilberto Santa Rosa (pictured; at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7) may vocalize en español (and occasionally overdo the drama in his delivery), but his voice and big band captivate even if you can’t quite follow the tales of amor. Known for his vocal improvisation, Santa Rosa is most striking when his band ups the tempo and he has to work to keep up with the blaring horns and swinging percussive beats. D.C.-born, Puerto Rico-raised percussionist Frank Colón (at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16) and alto sax player Miguel Zenón (at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18) don’t need any language to convey their cultural roots. Colón is best known as a sideman with the likes of the Manhattan Transfer and Brazilian vocalist Milton Nascimento; jazz up-and-comer Zenón has worked with Charlie Haden and David Sanchez. “En Voz Alta: A Performance by Nuyorican Poets” (at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17), on the other hand, will show what happens when dialects and cultures collide as the likes of Piri Thomas and Willie Perdomo capture the grit of the Lower East Side and East Harlem through the poetry of the Nuyorican Poets Café. The festival runs from Tuesday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 26 (see City List for related events), at the Kennedy Center. Free–$50. (202) 467-4600. (Steve Kiviat)