If you weren’t already jazzed about Women’s History Month, the Kennedy Center is giving you a good reason to get excited. They’re bringing their always compelling Direct Current festival back to D.C. and you can expect a full month of well curated music, films, art and more highlighting the stories of women. Some events are free, some events require some planning, but all of them are worth your time.
Check out our guide to Direct Current below and start getting your calendar in order. You won’t want to miss a thing.
Ava DuVernay: Screening of 13th – March 9
This year, the Kennedy Center is starting off their Direct Current festival with a very special screening of Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13th. A collaboration with the One Woman, One Vote 2020 Festival, this screening will include a live performance of Jason Moran’s excellent score. Go for the impressive music paired with a searing indictment of the prison industrial complex as it relates to racism, and stay for a post-show discussion with the amazing Ava DuVernay. It’s a powerful way to kick it all off.
jaimie branch – March 11
If you like Spoon, TV on the Radio, William Parker or Bell Orchestre, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the trumpeter / composer jaimie branch. She’s worked with all of those musicians and has received accolades from Pitchfork, The Guardian and more throughout her career. If you like music that’s on the dark and more experimental side of things, we recommend you spend some quality time with her latest album Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise and then grab your tickets to see her perform it live at the Kennedy Center.
Screening of Forte – March 12
Change your perceptions of success with the help of the D.C. premiere of David Donnelly’s Forte. A portrait of three impressive women who use music to inspire and enrich their own lives (as well as the lives of others), Forte follows a former prodigy from Russia working in the U.S. school system, a film composer from Argentina who has coined the term “transclassical music”; and a young Norwegian violinist who is about to get her big break. Want to network? Stay afterwards for what is sure to be an enlightening panel discussion.
prism – March 13-14
Psychological thriller lovers, opera fans and musical theatre enthusiasts- this one’s for you. Ellen Reid’s award-winning p r i s m is an opera that explores the crossroads between trauma and memory, specifically in response to sexual assault. Set to a libretto by Roxie Perkins, the work won the Music Critics Association of North America’s “Best New Opera Award” and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Don’t leave when the lights go up, there will be a post-performance panel discussion on the opening night featuring Reid and Perkins.
Mija – March 13
Is Garageband your form of self expression? Have you always been fascinated by audio engineering?The electronic music producer and DJ, Mija, might just be right up your alley. Inspired by Bjork, Imogen Heap, Chopin and more, Mija’s experimental sound is laced with reality, and is destined to have you begging for more. For this particular show, Mija will be performing live with a three person band at U Street Music Hall.
Camila Meza – March 14
Ella Fitzgerald aficionados, Selena fans and everyone in between- you’ll love Chilean singer and guitarist Camila Meza. She’s a self-starter who delivers what the New York Times describes as “an appealing combination of lightness and depth to all material… Her improvising, on electric or acoustic guitar, is serious business.” If you haven’t heard her album Ámbar yet, come by this show to hear it all live. You won’t regret it.
Blue – March 15
Answering the difficult question of “How do you protect a child born into danger?”, Jeanine Tesori (of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Fun Home), composes the story of a Harlem couple as they grapple with worries for their son’s future in today’s America, and then what happens later when those exact fears come true. You don’t want to miss the D.C. premiere of this incredible opera.
Screening of August 28 / Selma – March 15
An incredible double feature pairing two very important films, August 28 and Selma, this screening is presented in collaboration with the OneWoman, One Vote 2020 Festival. Swing by this free screening to see these powerhouse films paired together. As it’s first come, first served, be sure to come early so you can grab a seat.
Fukiko Takase + Dustin O’Halloran’s 1 0 0 1 – March 19
Did you watch Her? Were you infatuated by Ex Machina? Look no further than the music and dance combo by choreographer Fukiko Takase (who you may know for her viral video collaboration with Thom Yorke) and composer Dustin O’Halloran (who has written original scores for Marie Antoinette, etc). 1 0 0 1 is all about the physical and aesthetic exploration of AI and how this advanced technology changes our own perceptions of humanity. It’s going to be wild.
Patti Smith, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon – March 21
If you’re an undercover punk music lover, Direct Current’s season closer is for you. Sit down for an evening of music and poetry from your favorite punk icon / poet Patti Smith, as well as her daughter Jesse Paris Smith and Canadian cellist / composer Rebecca Foon. Besides poetry and music, there will be a performance of Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sunshine, which involves one of our favorite things, audience participation! This interactive performance has been seen at Coachella and the Tate Modern, so you know it’s definitely going to be something.