Performers of Memphis Jookin'
Credit: Courtesy Louis Ziggy Tucker

Washington Performing Arts has a long and laudable history of welcoming Black dance artists in the District. From 1968 to 2005, Washington Performing Arts Society, as the group was previously known, presented Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 35 times. When the Kennedy Center eventually wrestled that honor away, WPA brought in Dance Theatre of Harlem and Ronald K. Brown/Evidence. The tradition continues this spring with WPA’s presentation of Memphis Jookin’: The Show (pictured), starring viral hip-hop sensation Charles “Lil Buck” Riley. The Tennessee dance sensation achieved Web 2.0 internet fame back in 2011, when a video of him moonwalking on the toes of his tennis shoes alongside Yo-Yo Ma went viral. Who was this guy dancing to “The Swan” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ suite “Carnival of the Animals”? And, equally mystifying, what sort of dance was this? Jookin’, a smooth form of hip-hop enhanced by ballet training, has since led Lil Buck and his cohort to a series of Apple commercials, Vegas gigs, and a Madonna concert tour. Now he’s on the road with nine friends to perform a whole evening with an original storyline and score. March 25 at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. $30–$60.

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