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NOVEMBER 21-23

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With Lessons, a simple title for an otherwise complex work, choreographer Ron Brown presents us with a spiritual handbook of movement, speech, and song. Its six sections address the now-common identity markers of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. What separates Brown’s work from other socially minded art is his refusal to seek mere tolerance or acceptance. He does not call out to discriminators of the “other” but to those who are made “other.” He asks them to look inside and reject the easy roles society configures. It is this turning away from the outside enemy that has reformed the conceptual foundation of Brown’s work. Likewise, the music is progressive, mixing the music of London-based Wunmi Olaiye (of Soul 2 Soul) with Mahalia Jackson’s gospel, Zap Mama’s world rhythms, and old-school house music. Essex Hemphill, Gil Scott-Heron, Martin Luther King Jr., and contemporary poets and playwrights commissioned for this piece compose the text. Brown and his company of classically trained dancers (who haven’t forgotten how to club) provide the movement. The lessons turn out to be bits of knowledge passed down from families and communities for generations on end. Through art, Brown is looking for a path to healing, an opening to freedom. He is looking in the right place. At 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NW. $15. (202) 269-1600. (Holly Bass)