Crazy concept meets magical execution in ‘DEMO: Now’

Brooklyn Rider
Washington Post

How’s this for the ultimate house party: an intrepid band, a hot young musician-composer-singer, and some folks who can really dance — including a couple of ballerinas with a wild side. Also, Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, the rubber-limbed, Memphis Jookin virtuoso in high-tops, who seems to melt and fuse his bones at will. 

They gathered for the Kennedy Center’s “DEMO: Now” program Wednesday in the Terrace Theater, just one night, gone forever, an experiment that vanished almost as soon as it began. Artists were tossed together, reshuffled and paired up in so many different and ingenious ways that it felt like one fierce, rumbling, thrashing utterance. It seemed like the center of the universe. It lasted little more than an hour.

Violins were plucked and strummed like ukuleles. Dancers got up in the musicians’ faces, and as they flew across the stage you could almost see contrails streaming from their limbs. 

The lineup included Caroline Shaw, the Pulitzer Prize-winning violinist, vocalist and composer; the adventuresome string quartet Brooklyn Rider; ballerinas Sara Mearns, of New York City Ballet, and Patricia Delgado, recently retired from Miami City Ballet; and former Merce Cunningham Dance Company members Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. Damian Woetzel, director of the Vail Dance Festival and soon-to-be Juilliard School president, was the evening’s director, curator and amiable emcee.
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