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In Nutcracker Nation, dance critic Jennifer Fisher finds that much of that ballet’s popularity stems from its ability to be reinterpreted: More often than not, it’s been morphed into mac and cheese. But from May 17 to 21, eight area choreographers will present contemporary ballet performances at the D.C. Contemporary Ballet Festival that are more along the lines of a hotshot chef’s nouveau deconstructions. The intent, says coordinator Robert Bettman, is to “combine the strength and clarity of line and purpose of the ballet vocabulary with the liberty and freedom of modern dance.” The choreographers include Bettman, Artistic Director of the Blackbird Dance Ensemble; Gesel Mason (pictured), Artistic Director of Gesel Mason Performance Projects; Jason Hartley and Rudolf Kharatian of the Washington Ballet; Rafael Perdomo and Casey Maliszewski of the Ballet Teatro of El Salvador; Heather Pultz, Artistic Director of Artefacts; and Vincent Thomas, Artistic Director of VTDance. Music will range from Medeski Martin and Wood to Bach. In addition, the festival is also offering three evenings of inexpensive classes, with Heather Pultz teaching a low/intermediate contemporary class, Gesel Mason leading an intermediate modern class, and Jason Hartley teaching an intermediate/advanced contemporary class. Bettman promises a lineup that will provide a road map for what will be performed on main stages for years to come. If you can’t wait for the years to come, the festival kicks off with the workshops at 7:15 p.m. Monday, May 17, Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, and culminates in showcase performances at 8 p.m. Friday, May 21, and Saturday, May 22, at the Takoma Theatre, 6833 4th St. NW. $15. For more information on classes call (202) 210-2181, and for tickets call (800) 494-8497. (Bidisha Banerjee)