We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Sunday, July 14, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, July 17, 6 p.m.
They say: “From the desert of Morocco to the centerfold of Vogue. Why do women veil and reveal themselves? Try on a burka, take off your shoes. This show melds interviews, dance, installation and party games. A-veil yourself of an intimate evening.”
Camila’s Take: The revealing starts before To Know a Veil even begins, with curves of flesh half-visible through the fabric walls of a changing room. It’s an accurate preview: drapery and bare skin, sheerness and shadows, bright colors and darkness. All that’s missing is the compulsory participation—-and if that’s your thing, don’t worry, it’ll kick in soon.
The show, the latest version of an evolving performance piece, is a bit of everything: a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit funny, a little bit sexy, a little bit polemical. There’s beautiful dancing and a lecture on Moroccan architecture, moving personal revelations and slightly ridiculous games. As you might be gathering, creator Emma Crane Jaster doesn’t have a razor-like political focus. Instead, she dances gracefully around and through controversy, favoring questions over answers and varied voices over clarity.
The dancing alone would make an excellent show, full of mime-inspired interpretations of motherhood, make-up, stripteases and shame. As the dancers, draped or revealed, express women’s wildly different experiences, they’re well-matched by a soundtrack of personal interview clips and pulsing beats.
But the piece is only half dance—-the other half is audience interaction. I don’t want to give away all the sometimes-charming, sometimes-dragging parlor games, but yes, dear reader, you might wear a burka. Intriguing in theory, the loaner burkas seem like a misstep in practice—-they turn an otherwise-thoughtful show into a giggle-filled dress-up game. But maybe I’m just a culturally oversensitive curmudgeon. The rest of the opening-night audience seemed delighted with the games, and even the unwilling eventually had fun.
Speaking of which, be advised: You will participate. Attempts to watch the action from offstage will be—-you knew this was coming—-to no avail.
See it if: You’ve always wondered how you tie a headscarf.
Skip it if: The words “now close your eyes and imagine” make you break out in hives.