Smithsonian, Kennedy Center Mark JFK Centennial With Special Events, Performances

This week into next, the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center will commemorate the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's birth with displays and performances that honor his memory, values and dreams for the nation.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW) will display nine photographs of Kennedy and his family in the museum's "The American Presidency" exhibition from this Thursday through Aug. 27, according to a press release from the National Museum of American History.

The photographs that will be on display were taken by Richard Avedon, a renowned American fashion and portrait photographer. Avedon took the photographs in 1961; they feature then President-elect Kennedy, his wife and their children in front of the white background Avedon was known for, according to the release. 

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St. NW) has also planned a celebration of the JFK centennial, with a lineup of performances in the week leading up to May 29, Kennedy's birthday. The performances were selected to celebrate the ideals Kennedy stood for in his life: courage, freedom, justice, service and gratitude, according to the Kennedy Center's website.

The performances will begin Tuesday at 8 p.m. with "Rebirth of a Nation," a reimagining from Paul D. Miller, AKA DJ Spooky, of the racially charged 1915 silent film "The Birth of a Nation." The multimedia performance will feature a string quartet from the D.C. music ensemble Sound Impact, alongside D.J. Spooky's unique art of remixing, according to the Kennedy Center. Tickets start out at $19 for balcony seats and rise to $55 for box seats.

From Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the Washington Ballet will present "Frontier," a performance similarly inspired by JFK's intention for America to be a leader of art, culture and intellectual excellence, according to the Kennedy Center.

The Washington Ballet performance will survey space exploration from the viewpoint of an astronaut enduring the physical and emotional stress of space travel. Tickets range from $25 to $140.

On Saturday, the Kennedy Center will host a free open house in honor of Jackie Kennedy's 1962 televised tour of the White House, which aimed to make the first family's home more open to the American public. The Kennedy Center will be open from noon to 10 p.m., featuring hip-hop street art, interactive dance performances -- including the "vertical dance" of BANDALOOP -- and a live jam session between the D.C. Bluegrass Union and Archie Edwards Blues Foundation, among other family-friendly activities. 

On Sunday evening, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform their annual Memorial Day Concert to honor the military service of men and women in uniform outside the Kennedy Center. The concert is free to attend, but will also be broadcast live on PBS at 8 p.m.

The roster of performances culminates on Monday, May 29, with the JFK Centennial Celebration starting at 4 p.m. The celebration will feature readings by CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen and "Hamilton" star Christopher Jackson, among others.

Additional performances will come from the New York City Ballet's principal dancers Joaquin De Luz and Tiler Peck, as well as Grammy-nominated composer Jason Moran. Tickets for the final performance are still available for $25.

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