The Fabulous 1940s Party Brings the Swing

Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 25th, 2014

By Bailey Lucero-Carter

Itching for a fabulous night of be-boping and wild kicks? Join the party and make new memories the old way at the Fabulous 1940s Party at Oatlands this Saturday. This event will be hosted under the stars in a tented area for an evening of retro fun.

Photo courtesy of Oatlands Historic House and Gardens.

The Fabulous 1940s Party is new to Oatlands this year. Last summer, the Leesburg plantation began the decade-themed party series with its 1920s party, which attracted over 100 attendees. But why the 1940s?

“Our history inspired it,” says Executive Director Andrea McGimsey, 49. The Fabulous 1940s Party brings back the glamour of Hollywood, remembers the opening of the National Gallery of Art in 1941, and will be serving heavy hors d’oeuvres—including German wiener schnitzel and Polish pierogis—based on a theme of international peace.

The event also serves to honor Morton Eustis, who was the son of Oatlands owners William and Edith Eustis and who fought during World War II as a lieutenant in the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Armored Division.

Most of all, the Fabulous 1940s Party is a celebration. “We just want to celebrate that glamorous time,” McGimsey says. The event is full-blown fun, featuring authentic music from Doc Scantlin’s Palmettos, swing lessons from Dance King Studios, two antique cars and plenty of hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The event also features local wines from Fabbioli Cellars and Willowcroft, and cocktails from Catoctin Creek, the first distillery since prohibition in the 1920s. 

Although not required, 1940s attire is welcome. Last summer, a majority of attendants appeared in period clothing to party against the beautiful backdrop of the Oatlands estate, which stands almost untouched by history.

“It really was like going back in time,” McGimsey says.

Tickets for this unique vintage event are available now.


Fabulous 1940s Party
20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg
August 30, 7:30 – 11:30 p.m.

Burning Railcars and Moving Museums in Manassas this Weekend

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Civil War Weekend in Manassas

Photo Courtesy of Historic Manassas, Inc.

By Bailey Lucero-Carter

Flames will light the night sky this Saturday in Old Town Manassas as Civil War re-enactors burn a railroad car to commemorate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s 1862 raid on the junction. This event is just one of many that will bring history back to Manassas as part of Civil War Weekend.

In addition, Old Town Manassas is commemorating Civil War Weekend with guest speakers like Bob O’Connor, author of “Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War,” tours of the plantation Liberia, weapons demonstrations and a special three-day exhibition of the Virginia Civil War 150 HistoryMobile.

Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission's HistoryMobile.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

The HistoryMobile, winner of the American Association of State and Local History’s 2013 Leadership in History Award of Merit, was established summer of 2011 in accordance with the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas, also known as the Battle of Bull Run.

This museum on wheels is a tractor-trailer packed full of interactive exhibits and activities. The outside of the moving museum is laden with unique prints that depict places and people from the Civil War.

Inside, the museum is divided into four sections—Battlefront, Homefront, Journey to Freedom and Loss-Gain Legacy—where patrons can get a glimpse of what life was like for soldiers, civilians and enslaved families, while also learning about the sacrifices and benefits of the war.

Executive Director Cheryl Jackson says the museum’s new features include scanned family documents, photos and journals for patrons to examine.

In addition, visitors can become a part of the exhibit through the Legacy Project, which invites individuals to submit Civil War documents from their own families to the exhibit.

Civil War Weekend and the Civil War 150 HistoryMobile are free admission. The events and attractions are enjoyable for all ages.

Civil War Weekend
Historic Downtown Manassas
Aug. 22-23, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Aug. 24, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free Admission

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for No Screens

Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 11th, 2014

By Elke Thoms

Dairy Days

Photo courtesy of Don Sweeny, FCPA Photographer.

As the summer dwindles and the heat continues, you might find your kids begging for just one more ice cream trip. Sully Historic Site’s Dairy Days, happening on the next three Fridays, aim to satisfy your child’s cravings—so long as they learn that getting the sugary treat wasn’t always as easy as the ice cream truck makes it out to be. For a small price, children can spend an hour making ice cream, churning butter, and playing very old-school games in and around a home built circa 1794.

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3. 2. 1. Go. – New interactive game teaches kids about The Cold War

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Image by Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

By Jessica Godart

It’s 10 a.m. Your briefing begins sharp on the hour. The fate of precious American cargo is in your hands as a plane has gone down too close to the Soviet Union. That same plane was carrying U.S. citizens who are now in danger as they are in enemy-filled territory.

The Cold War is spreading across Europe and affecting the world’s most powerful countries. Your mission is to find a safe route to save the lives of the pilots and regain the plane’s cargo using satellite imagery and aerial surveillance. All intelligence information you receive is vital to complete your mission as soon as possible.

However, you must complete this mission by 3:50 p.m. and be sure not to deviate from your parents during the discovery process.

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will be adding this new interactive game, TechQuest: Eye in the Sky, to their kids’ programs starting Aug. 8 and 9. The alternative reality situation allows kids to experience the role of intelligence analysts during The Cold War.

New Horizons Satellite at Udvar-Hazy. Image by Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

“We’ve set up a scenario in which a plane has gone down,” said Shannon Marriott, Explainers Program Coordinator at Udvar-Hazy. “They’re going through the game looking at different artifacts and looking at the kind of images they can take to eventually plan a safe route to rescue the pilots in this plane.”

TechQuest is designed to use codes, ciphers, puzzles and satellite imagery created by Udvar-Hazy Explainers. While the images and codes cannot be revealed so their secrecy remains intact, graphic designers specifically created the images so they were as accurate as possible to the period that the game is set in.

 “We wanted to make a scenario that was plausible but wasn’t actually based on real events,” said Marriott.

The pictures are used by the kids, acting as intelligence analysts during the game, to “map out a route of rescue” to safely return the pilots and their cargo home.

Participants are given printed guides to follow in order to explore four different artifacts all related to the Cold War. They are instructed to go to certain satellites and aircraft, where senior advisers will walk the participants through the process of taking satellite photos.

The game is designed to last between 60 and 90 minutes and ends with the kids and parents returning to the Claude Moore Lab, where the briefing is held, for the debriefing once they have finished the tasks.

TechQuest: Eye in Sky is designed to be available to play the second Friday and Saturday of every month, starting in August. It is geared towards kids around the ages of third to eighth grade and their parents. Marriott mentioned that eventually they would like to offer the activity to school groups during visits.

TechQuest: Eye in the Sky
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly
Aug. 8 & 9 (10 a.m. – 3:50 p.m.)

Virginia Ballet’s “Precedence” is truly an all-ages show

Posted by ERust / Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


Courtesy of Theo Kossenas, Media4Artists

Courtesy of Theo Kossenas, Media4Artists

By Emily Rust

A mix of young and old make up the performers of Virginia Ballet’s “Precedence.” The August 10 performance is more of a “concert” rather than a ballet according to artistic director Tish Cordova.

Dancers range from age nine to 60 with adult dancers taking on more difficult pieces such as a flamingo dance. The annual summer performance is in its ninth year with plans for an all-star show next year.

Virginia Ballet’s primary goal is to prepare dancers for the future, whether that is auditioning for traditional ballets or college dance programs. Despite its name, 64-year-old company teaches dancers all different types of dance because as Cordova notes, many auditions will ask dancers to not only be an expert in traditional ballet, but also, modern dance. Because of this, “Precedence” includes a variety of dances including classical ballet, modern and contemporary performances.

“While our goal is the same to teach them correctly and produce very diverse and well-rounded dancers, each teacher’s approach is different and approach is slightly different,” Cordova says on the ballet company’s mission.

Many dancers who move onto different ballet companies or universities are returning to Virginia Ballet to choreograph dances.  Some former dancers choreograph as part of their college theses but others like summer performance founder, Susanne Mirabello, return for their love of dance. Mirabello now teaches elementary school in Brussels, but returns often to teach dance classes at Virginia Ballet.

This year’s performance includes many guest choreographers including Andrea Heininge of Fairfax Dance Academy as well as two choreographers from a Maryland ballet theater.

The audience can expect a wide range of dance styles among the 18 different pieces with some acts more abstract than others. Solos out of bigger ballets will be included as well.

After Sunday’s “Precedence,” upcoming performances include “The Nutcracker” in late December as well as “La Sylphide” in April.

Virginia Ballet Company

The Ernst Community Cultural Center
Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus
Aug. 10, 4:30 p.m.

LGBT & Straight Friends Socials Kick Off at IOTA Club Tonight

Posted by Lynn Norusis / Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

One can never have too many friends, whether you are the average person or a business that caters to bolstering social calendars. IOTA Club & Cafe is expanding it’s reach along with showing its support for its neighbors with their newest event starting tonight, LGBT & Straight Friends Social

Every Tuesday, for those 21 years of age and older, the Arlington locale will play host to what owners Jane Negrey Inge and Stephen Negrey see as a growing population in the Clarendon area and throughout Northern Virginia.

“In planning this new weekly event, I’m trying to lighten up and not imagine arty or intellectual rumination, cultural connection and the like,” said Inge. “But it seems the LGBT community and their straight friends might benefit from a reliable place and a routine time to cross-pollinate … in the flesh rather than on the inter-webs.”

The owners have also asked NOVA Pride to set up a booth at the event to spread the word about their first-ever pride festival October 5 at Bull Run Special Events Center.

LGBT & Straight Friends Social
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Tuesdays, open at least until 1 a.m.
21 years and older after 7 p.m. 
No cover charge


Dip Into Doah Fest

Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 4th, 2014

By Elke Thoms

Doah Fest

Courtesy of Olivia Pisaretz

On an evening in April of last year, four friends were sitting on the patio of a bar talking about music festivals. As they discussed what they liked and didn’t like about the festivals they’d attended, the idea of starting their own festival popped up, igniting a conversation.

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Singer, songwriter and teacher, Natalie York, returns to Jammin’ Java

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

York performing. Photo by Luis Ruiz.

Photo by Luis Ruiz.

By Jessica Godart

After a three-week Spring tour promoting her newest album, Promises,’ Vienna-native Natalie York returns to her hometown on Saturday, Aug. 2 to rock Jammin’ Java.

The venue is a bit of a change of pace to the New York artist who finished her tour after visiting cities such as Philadelphia, Arlington, Waynesboro, Norfolk, Durham, Knoxville, Nashville, Indianapolis and Chicago. Even after her first tour, though, York is still excited to play in Vienna.

“Not everywhere I get to play is full of people who have known me my whole life and that’s more special,” says York.

The 25-year-old singer-songwriter looks forward to showcasing some new covers at the concert also, saying that the songs will be well-known, but with her own sound to them.

“I always try to put my own spin [on covers],” she says. “It’s always nice after a break to get back in.” ‘Promises’ was released earlier this year in January.

York’s summer break has been anything but, though. She has spent the past several months working as a teacher for high school students attending the University of Virginia (UVA) Young Writers Workshop summer program held at the Sweet Briar College campus.

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

“It was such a treat to come back to that program from the other side and get to teach some really amazing young writers,” York says.

York’s sessions focused on songwriting, the same class she participated in for the four summers she attended the workshop, stating that it’s “where [she] became a songwriter,” she also explained that she attended the workshop “not really even knowing [she] was a songwriter.”

Jammin’ Java attendees will be able to experience York’s songwriting skills on Saturday during her performance. York writes all of her own songs and will be featuring some from her “Promises” album. She describes the sound of the CD as “a fun hybrid.”

York's newest album, "Promises." Painting by Tim Hildebrandt and Design by Matthew Fleming.

York explains that, along with her four other band mates, the album focuses on the Americana genre of music, blending others as well such as “rock and roll…old country and we slip in a little bit of R&B.”

Coming soon York hints there might be a music video and working on focusing on recording some new songs. “I definitely want to get some stuff recorded.”

York advises aspiring songwriters to “write every day and set parameters for yourself. Some of the best stuff comes not just when you’re purely inspired…but to write all the time sometimes you have to give yourself assignments” to complete and to be “constantly working on something.”

On Saturday, York will be joined by her opener, Karen Jonas, a current resident of Fredericksburg known for her array of personal and energetic songs.

Natalie York at Jammin’ Java
 August 2, 7 p.m.
227 Maple Ave E Vienna 
Advanced VIP tickets $20 / Bar $12 / Premier $12 / GA $12 
Day Of VIP tickets $20 / Bar $15 / Premier $15 / GA $15 



Cirque du Soleli brings female-driven “Amaluna” to National Harbor

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Courtesy of Laurence Labat/Cirque du Soleli  (Teeterboard)

Photo courtesy of Laurence Labat/Cirque du Soleli.

By Emily Rust

 “Amaluna”  isn’t your typical Cirque du Soleli show. It’s one dominated by women.

From the first all-female band in Cirque’s history, to casting a high percentage of women (Cirque casts are normally 70 percent male), “Amaluna’s” theme of women carries through onstage and off.

“I feel passionately that women should be presented with strong identities, strong opinions,” artistic director Rachel Lancaster says of “Amaluna” which will be at the Plateau at National Harbor from July 31-Sept. 21.

Loosely based off of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Amaluna tells the story of a magical island populated only by women, that is, until a shipwreck washes Romeo to shore. From there, Miranda, the daughter of Queen Prospera, faces challenges throughout her love affair with Romeo.

The show’s theme follows a portrayal of power and strength of women demonstrating that love “isn’t always a simple path,” according to Lancaster.

Audiences will see the classic acrobatics that define Cirque du Soleli shows. But for Amaluna, a new act has been created.

Courtesy of Laurence Labat/Cirque du Soleli  (Uneven Bars)

Photo courtesy of Laurence Labat/Cirque du Soleli.

Modeled from women’s uneven bars in gymnastics, this new act coincides with the storyline of a female amazon who is to protect and control the island. Like other Cirque acts, audiences will be captivated by the dangerous yet smooth acrobatics throughout the show.

“Lots of moments look seamless and beautiful and easy but because acrobats are so good, you don’t see how hard it is,” Lancaster says.

Behind the final product lies a lengthy schedule of trial and error. For example, the uneven bars act started about 12 to 18 months ago in Cirque du Soleli’s native Montreal, Canada where performers tested out equipment to give feedback and see how the act can be improved.

Other acts include aerial straps, juggling, Chinese pole and teeterboard.

The two-hour, 15-minute show features electronic music that Lancaster describes as “energetic” and “punchy.” Guitars are prominent with side notes of percussion, cello, vocals and keyboards.

After “Amaluna’s” D.C. residence, it will continue its tour down to Atlanta, Miami and Houston.

The Plateau at Downtown National Harbor
300 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, Maryland
July 31-Sept. 21, times vary

Closing Weekend at Castleton Ends on a Sadder Note

Posted by Editorial / Friday, July 25th, 2014

Maestro Lorin Maazel and wife Dietlinde Turban Maazel. Photo by Molly Peterson.

By Kate Masters

Only a week before the final performances of the Castleton Festival, founder Maestro Lorin Maazel died, leaving his legacy with the scores of young artists whom he personally selected and trained. Despite his notable absence, the closing notes of the opera festival will still play on, aided by his wife, Dietlinde, general manager Nancy Gustafson, and the renowned conductor’s many protégées.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of the month-long festival, its final days this season are some of the best opportunities to attend. Maazel started Castleton in 2009 as a way to mentor young musicians, and almost all of the performers this year were personally trained or advised by the maestro himself.

Beyond working with a master class of conductors, Maazel also worked personally with the performers in the festival’s two opera productions, Madame Butterfly and Don Giovanni. Javier Arrey, the titular lead character in Don Giovanni, says that it’s very unusual for such a famous conductor to spend so much face time with the singers, but it speaks to the level of care that Maazel poured into Castleton. The festival became the sole focus of his creative energies after illness forced him to resign his post as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.

The final performance of Don Giovanni this Friday at 8 p.m. may be the best way to grasp the full Castleton experience. Though the acclaimed Italian stage director Giandomenico Vaccari directed the show, Maazel’s spirit still shines in every note—according to Jennifer Black, who plays Donna Elvira in the opera, there was a 50/50 collaboration between the conductor and the director, with Maazel approving every decision.

Besides Maazel’s deep involvement with the performance, Don Giovanni is widely considered to be the most perfect opera ever written. The story of a sociopathic womanizer (or a soulful but incorrigible hedonist, depending on who you listen to), the opera ultimately deals with society as a whole, and what becomes of those who flout its rules. The eponymous lead objectifies thousands of women and kills an innocent man without remorse, but the director of the performance ultimately decides whether he goes to hell at the end of the performance.

As Castleton’s Don Giovanni, Arrey interprets the character as a man who is not just mentally ill, but who completes his seductions to fill a void in his own life.

“In the end, Don Giovanni does not seduce these women because he is a lover, but because there is a hole in his own life,” Arrey says. “He is empty, there is emptiness there, and he is always trying to find something to fill himself up.”

Black plays Donna Elvira, one of Giovanni’s more serious conquests, who vows vengeance when she learns of his womanizing ways. Throughout the opera, she is a perennial thorn in his side, thwarting his seduction attempts and warning other characters of his amoral ways. Black calls Elvira a “cockblock,” but says she’s the only player in the performance who wishes for a reformed Don Giovanni.

“Elvira is a woman who sees his ways, and has to come to terms with the fact that the man she loves is evil,” Black says. “She’s the only person, in the end, who wants him to change. Everyone else wants vengeance, but she wants both.”

Don Giovanni is the final available opera at Castleton, but there are still ample opportunities to see other musicians who worked under Maazel’s tutelage. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, chamber players will grace the stage at the Theatre House, and there’s a symphonic concert at 7 p.m. featuring some of the greatest love arias in opera. Though its founder has taken his final bow onstage, Castleton lives on, and will end its sixth season with a flourish befitting Maazel. 

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