Nothing in life is free, unless you’re at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage every night at 6 p.m. For twenty years the Millennium Stage has been a constant source of innovative, interesting, fun and at times weird programming all for the price of none. This year marks their 20th anniversary so we reached out to the fine folks of the Kennedy Center and asked if they could take us on a little tour of some of their favorite performances.

King Sunny Ade

One memorable moment occurred when the Nigerian guitarist and songwriter King Sunny Ade was performing on Millennium Stage. At one point during the show King Sunny was playing hard and sweating when a man in the audience wearing spectacular Nigerian clothing stood up, walked to the stage in a dignified manner, pulled cash from his pocket and reached up and pressed the bills to King Sunny’s forehead. The ushers and I were taken by surprise, but fortunately, another audience member explained to me the tradition of “spraying”, which is a way of showing respect and appreciation for musicians in Nigerian juju music. – Garth Ross, Vice President, Community Engagement

Ivy Sole

My favorite moment at Millennium Stage was seeing two little boys, about 3 years old each, have a “dance battle” during the Ivy Sole concert – I’m pretty sure they even tried spinning on their heads at one point! By the end of their dance off, they were holding hands and dancing together! If you missed it, check out the footage of the Ivy Sole performance here!! – Ariel, Program Manager, PAFE

Unexpected Dance Parties

My favorite moments happen any time guests come to see a Millennium Stage performance and then unexpectedly find themselves participating in a dance party in the audience seats or in front of the stage. It is this moment of contagious participatory joy that elevates the shared performance watching experience to another level. – Matt Kettenburg, Production Manager

Secret Sisters

One of my favorite Millennium Stage performances is when the Secret Sisters performed in August 2015. Hailing from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the sisters were armed with just their beautiful harmonies, one guitar, and hilarious repartee. – Margot Pien, Program Coordinator, Community Engagement and Millennium Stage


My favorite Millennium Stage memory would be experiencing Merry TUBACHRISTMAS for the first time. Hundreds of tubas players and audience members filled the whole Concert Hall. Tubas and sousaphones played all over, giving a real surround-sound effect of festive holiday music. You immediately felt the camaraderie and the community between the players. For an instrument that usually gets relegated to the background of musical pieces, it was thrilling to hear the richness of the deep, brassy sound brought into the spotlight. – A.J. Jelonek, Production Assistant, PAFE

Sharing Memories

Since we livestream and archive our performances, when I am really proud of what we have accomplished on stage, I can take it home and share the memory with my family and friends. Even if they live across the country, they can share in the artistry we present, and see the impact of our work. They can also see I’m geeking out about the artist I’m introducing to the stage. – Bobby Hunter, PAFE & Millennium Stage – Production Coordinator

Suzanne Farrell Ballet

My first, favorite, and most memorable Millennium Stage performance was seeing the Suzanne Farrell Ballet perform in 2010. I was a dance major at the University of Maryland at the time and couldn’t afford tickets to the ballet so I came to the free show and was blown away. I had learned about Ms. Farrell as a young dancer and was so inspired by her expressivity that to see her dancers on stage in real life in front of me FO FREE was peak happiness. – Courtney Burke, Marketing Manager

Lisa Shaw: The Mother of All Cabarets

This is one of my favorites. I may be biased; it’s my wife. She knocked it out of the park and had an audience of 300+. – Jeremy Birch, Manager of Publications