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DECEMBER 14-JANUARY 6
If television is our country’s most beloved medium, then surely Sesame Street is a national treasure. The groundbreaking achievement of Joan Ganz Cooney’s Children’s Television Workshop turned 30 this year, and coincidentally, so did I. While I may yearn for the early days before they added Snuffleupagus (1971), when Mr. Hooper was still alive (before 1983), and even the brief period when Oscar the Grouch was orange (1968), the show continues to progress and evolve. New additions like Elmo, Zoe, and Laugh-In alumna Ruth Buzzi (remember when people called Sesame Street “Laugh-In for kids”?) have overshadowed the classics in the hearts and minds of a new generation. But hey, spending an hour on the Street always nets at least one mind-bending segment from the early ’70s. In honor of Sesame’s 30th anniversary, the Capital Children’s Museum presents an exhibit of celebrity art inspired by the show. Barbara Bush, Denis Franz, and Tony Bennett contributed paintings, and a special quilt (pictured) was created by the muppet team at the Jim Henson Co. (featuring Guy Smiley, for us old-timers). Now where’s that Electric Company reunion? From Monday, Dec. 14 to Jan. 4, 1999 at the Capital Children’s Museum, 800 Third St. NE. Free. (202) 675-4120. (Don Smith)
The Holy Body Tattoo
More art than dance, the highly visual work of the Holy Body Tattoo skyrockets dance theater into new realms. Like a black-and-white photo seen as it develops, HBT’s tight, fast, repetitive movement slowly sears itself onto the mind, clearly and indelibly. This is where the “tattoo” comes in: Dancer-choreographers Dana Gingras and Noam Gagnon believe that life’s experiences mark the soul, just as a tattoo marks the body—permanently. Most of the movement takes place on the floor, as if driven by violent impulses. The dancers stand up only to fall back down. With their bodies in constant contact with the floor, they execute fantastic circular flips and roll at dangerous speeds into each other’s arms. In their most recent piece, our brief eternity, Gingras and Gagnon are joined by dancer Chantale Deeble. HBT’s use of music, film, and strobe lights works to disengage the conscious mind’s defenses, like a ’60s psychedelic experiment. Jean-Yves Theriault, co-founder of ’80s rock group Voivod, composes the percussive, guitar-heavy soundtracks that buoy their work. Writer-filmmaker Chris Halcrow and William Gibson of Neuromancer fame wrote the text that underlies eternity. Gingras and Gagnon embrace recent musical culture wholeheartedly, from the ideas of ’80s punk and New Wave pioneers to the aesthetics of ’90s electronica. At 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, & Saturday, Dec. 12, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. $15. (202) 833-9800. (Holly Bass)
“Garbo talks!” screamed the advertisements in 1930, but the fascination with movie sound might have been but a passing fad if she’d had nothing to say. Fortunately, the pioneering words in Anna Christie were supplied by Frances Marion, a woman whose standing in the Hollywood pantheon should surely rank with that of the icy recluse. Present almost from the industry’s beginning, Marion quickly became the highest-paid screenwriter in town, earning 200 credits penning some of the most important films in the careers of Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, and others. But she wasn’t merely a crafter of saccharine women’s weepers. Marion also wrote the prison picture The Big House for burly Wallace Beery and the boxing classic The Champ. For this screening, her biographer, Cari Beauchamp, will introduce a 35mm print of Anna Christie, which is the best way to see—and hear—Greta (pictured). At noon and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. $6 (202) 783-7370. (Dave Nuttycombe)