Ron K. Brown/EVIDENCE
Better late than completely canceled by the coronavirus. Washington finally welcomes back Ron K. Brown/EVIDENCE this week, nearly two years after the dance company was scheduled to perform the new work co-commissioned by the Kennedy Center. Mercy, Brown’s collaboration with singer Meshell Ndegeocello, premiered at the 2019 Bard College SummerScape Festival and was scheduled to tour during the pandemic-thwarted 2019-2020 season. A lot has happened since then, making Brown and Ndegeocello’s soulful song-and-dance exploration of Black life in America feel even more urgent. “You’re ashamed to ask for mercy, and it is a shame that you have to ask for mercy,” the choreographer has said, explaining his views on the concept. Although not conventionally Christian, Brown’s works are deeply spiritual. Mercy was conceived as a companion work to Grace, his groovy 1999 classic set to Fela Kuti, Roy Davis’ “Gabriel,” and Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday.” The original program featured Grace and Mercy, but Brown is adding what the Kennedy Center calls a “first glimpse” of a new work. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, which distributed more than $4 million to dance artists during the pandemic, Brown is midway through creating The Equality of Night and Day, with a score by Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz. Hopefully that means EVIDENCE will be back when the dance is done and, likely, Brown is praying to whatever god is out there for mercy, and a better world beyond the pandemic. Ron K. Brown/EVIDENCE performs at 8 p.m. on Oct. 21, 22, and 23 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. kennedy-center.org. $29–$59.