Mary Lambert serenades GMU’s Center for the Arts

Posted by Editorial / Monday, March 30th, 2015


Photo Courtesy of Tricia Daniel/ shutterstock.com

Photo Courtesy of Tricia Daniel/ shutterstock.com

By Sophia Rutti  

Mary Lambert, a Seattle-based musician and spoken-word artist, is coming to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on April 2.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for faculty and staff and $10 for students.  

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NoVA writer Jonathan Harper talks ‘Daydreamers’, the D.C. Literary scene

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 26th, 2015

author Jonathan Harper

Photo Courtesy of Anna Carson DeWitt.

By Victoria Gaffney

This Saturday, author Jonathan Harper will read from his debut short story collection, “Daydreamers,” filling One More Page Books with the dynamic characters of his imagination.

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Virginia native Lauren Calve brings her concert series, ‘Her Roots’, to Jammin’ Java

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Lauren Calve Band

The Lauren Calve Band. Photo by Roxplosion.


By Matthew Tracy

Finding a musician in the D.C. area as passionate and selfless as singer-songwriter Lauren Calve is like finding a five-leaf clover.

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Northern Virginia shelters offer Doggie Day Trips

Posted by Editorial / Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Local shelters establish dog walking programs to get the pets and residents some exercise.

Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

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Shakespeare comes to the ‘Burg

Posted by Editorial / Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Shakespeare in the 'Burg Festival

Photo Courtesy of Lindsey Walters (Much Ado about Nothing).

By Sophia Rutti 

Small-town Middleburg will be getting a distinctly Elizabethan face-lift from March 27-29.

Shakespeare in the ‘Burg is an annual festival in which the town of Middleburg hosts numerous productions by the American Shakespeare Center and the Middleburg Players as well as a one-act playwriting competition, a film showing and workshops on stagecraft and acting.

If you’re a big fan of the bard, then this is an event that you will not want to miss. The American Shakespeare Center will be presenting two of Shakespeare’s most notable works: “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” You can experience one of the most tragic plays ever written as well as one of the most comedic.  

Whether you’d prefer to watch two people fall in love with each other’s wit and mischief or see Hamlet struggle to avenge his murdered father, there will be something for you. Tickets for the ASC productions are $40.

If iambic pentameter doesn’t really light your fire, don’t worry. Swing by and watch the film version of “West Side Story,” based on “Romeo and Juliet,” and soak up all of the Shakespearean drama through song and dance.  

Prefer to see people play music live? No problem. Go listen to music by the Crooked Angels for only $25.

Not to mention you can enjoy a close and convenient lunch or dinner between the performances and the workshops. Nip into either Julien’s Cafe, The Red Fox Inn and Tavern or the French Hound for a break from the theater. All of the restaurants are within walking distance from the venues.

All the while, you can enjoy everything that Middleburg has to offer: quaint side streets with boutique shops, historic inns and gorgeous country scenery. Swing by the National Sporting Library & Museum and learn about equestrian sports, or hop in the car and take a spa day at the Salamander Resort and Spa before emerging refreshed and ready to enjoy a performance of your choice.

An insider’s tip: Stop by Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor and enjoy a cone while you explore the town. Even if you live just 20 minutes away, the sugary treat will make you feel like a tourist.

For more information about scheduling, ticket prices and productions click here.


Shakespeare in the ‘Burg
March 27-29 
300 W Washington St.

Moving Minds and Creativity in a Day

Posted by Editorial / Friday, March 20th, 2015

Enjoy a display of culture at the 6th Annual Move Me Festival that focuses on getting children “active, creative and involved.”

6th Annual Move Me Festival

Photos courtesy of Baba Jamal Koram (Baba Jamal Koram); Xuejuan Dance Ensemble (Xuejuan Dance Ensemble); Sweatvibes (Sweatvibes); David Moss (Halau O’aulani, Kenmore Junior Company); Nepal Dance School (Nepal Dance School); Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock.com (clogs); Synetic Theater/Koko Lanham (‘Hamlet’).

(March 2015)

George Mason dancers debut 3 innovative pieces for annual concert

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 19th, 2015

George Mason School of Dance

Photo Courtesy of Tim Coburn.

By Victoria Gaffney

Mason students are taking the stage with a set of three eclectic, contemporary works for this year’s Dance Gala Performances at the George Mason University School of Dance. Technically challenging, these pieces showcase the students’ sophisticated style, professional poise and advanced skill level.

What makes this year’s set of performances particularly unique is a Gala Dinner Celebration. Dr. Victoria Salmon, associate dean emeritus, relates that it all began at a meeting last year. At this conference, faculty member Christopher d’Amboise expressed that his dad, Jacques d’Amboise, had suggested they turn the whole event into a “full-blown gala.”

Susan Shields, director of the School of Dance at George Mason, is thrilled with this year’s repertoire. “It’s just phenomenal that we’re being given permission to dance these works,” she explains.

The show will open with the lively, upbeat “Pupil Suite,” by Andrea Miller, who is the founder, artistic director and choreographer of Gallim Dance, a New York company. With the Israeli band Balkan Beat Box providing the musical backdrop for the piece, the animated choreography is paired with edgy, trendy costumes, what Shields refers to as “Williamsburg Brooklyn” style. “It’s just so high energy, so quirky. So smart and fun,” Shields claims of Miller’s work.

Following this energetic and dynamic performance will be a work that the school is honored to perform by Alejandro Cerrudo, Hubbard Street Dance’s first resident choreographer. Shields explains that this company artistically fuses ballet and modern, which is similar to George Mason’s approach. Three couples will perform Cerrudo’s “Lickety Split” set to Devendra Banhart’s indie-rock music. Shields refers to the dance as a series of “intimate duets”—not romantic in nature, but evoking a more general lifelong journey. “It’s just very subtle and sensuous partnering,” says Shields, who feels that this work particularly illustrates the talent and maturity of these dancers.

The evening will close with the compelling, intense “Vespers” by legendary choreographer Ulysses Dove. The students had the privilege of working with Alvin Ailey dancers on this piece when they visited the Kennedy Center earlier this year. Alvin Ailey dancers, having also performed this piece, worked one on one with Mason students dancing the same parts. The experience was incredible for the students. “Nothing can make you happier as someone who’s lived her life in dance to see things passed on hands-on like that,” says Shields.

When putting together this dance program, Shields is always looking for works that will accomplish two goals. The first is to ensure the routines are not only engaging but that they also expose audiences to great artistic pieces and the advanced skill level of Mason dancers. The second goal is to make sure the works will open doors for the dancers, possibly leading to networking opportunities and the ability to learn from the dances themselves.

George Mason School of Dance

Photo Courtesy of Tim Coburn

The level of sophistication in these performances reflects the rigor and high standards of the dance program.  Salmon explains that she’s seen “a new sense of energy and willingness to explore different avenues of the arts” at Mason. She points to a collaboration and synergy between faculty and students across art programs, which has contributed to this new dynamic feel.

Mason dancers go on to pursue various careers in the dance world, whether that be performing in a professional company, writing for a dance magazine or becoming involved in events management or arts administration. “We want educated, smart dancers working in the dance field bringing that special intelligence that they have to our field,” Shields says. Salmon describes their approach as an ideal combination of the professional and academic.

The gala, which will raise funds for student scholarships to the School of Dance, will be held before the March 28 performance with Jacques d’Ambroise, the Gala Concert’s honorary chair, in attendance. Performances will be held this year at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on March 27 and March 28 and, for the first time, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on March 29. The gala before the March 28 performances will feature cocktails and dinner and there will be champagne toasts with the dancers following the program.

Gala Concert and Dinner Schedule:

Saturday, March 28
Reception: 5:30 p.m.
Dinner & program: 6 p.m.
Gala performance: 8 p.m.
Meet the Mason Dance Company and champagne toast: following the performance

Ticket Information:

Performance only: $25 for adults, $15 for seniors & Mason students
Gala Concert and Dinner on March 28: starts at $150 per person
Contact Kara Huneycutt at (703) 993-4749 or khuneycu@gmu.edu. 


March 27 and March 28 performances
Center for the Arts at Mason
4400 University Drive, MS 2F5
Fairfax, VA 22030

March 29 performance
10960 George Mason Circle
Manassas, VA 20110

Animal Welfare League of Arlington introduces Paws and Read

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Kerry McKeel

Photo courtesy of Kerry McKeel

By Matthew Tracy

More and more kids today spend less time reading and more time laughing and aww-ing at YouTube videos of cats or dogs. The solution? A program where kids read to these adorable critters in real life.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Paws and Read program does just this, allowing schoolchildren in the Northern Virginia and D.C. metro area the chance to read to shelter cats. The program kicked off March 2 with a selection of “The Cat in the Hat” and other Dr. Seuss classics in celebration of Seuss’s birthday.

According to AWLA’s Jennifer Pickar, director of community programs, “some of the parents say their kids don’t like to read, (but) they love cats, they love animals. They’re hoping that will be the incentive for their child to practice.” The Paws and Read program gives children who have trouble reading in front of their classmates at school the opportunity to practice reading in a relaxed environment for a judgement-free animal audience.

One of the goals of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is to provide “nurturing animal care and community outreach.” The Paws and Read program helps accomplish both of these.

For one, the cats get some time out of their kennels with a potential owner. “They have a positive interaction with the child, and they enjoy the sound of a child’s voice when they’re reading,” says Pickar. “They get to interact with kids in a setting that’s not scary for them. They’re sitting there reading versus chasing them around trying to pick them up.”

The program also opens the door for increased community awareness and involvement. Many people brush off animal shelters as gloomy places full of wild and unwanted beasts. The program helps debunk this myth. “When a lot of parents and children visit they’ve been surprised by the shelter, that it’s so nice,” Pickar says. “That it’s a nice place to visit, a good resource for the community to get information, and that the shelter has so many great adoptable pets.”

The Paws and Read program is open to kids from kindergarten to 5th grade for 20-minute reading sessions. After this month, Pickar and the AWLA hope to expand the program to other area shelters year-round , eventually including dogs and other shelter animals.

Paws and Read
Animal Welfare League of Arlington
2650 South Arlington Mill Drive
Arlington, 22206
(703) 931-9241

12 cultural celebrations to ring in Spring

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Courtesy of Svetlana Jafarova/ Shutterstock

Courtesy of Svetlana Jafarova/ Shutterstock (Wheat Grass and Easter Eggs)

By Sophia Rutti

Spring is nearly here, and with the recent warm weather, we can literally feel it in the air. Around the world (well, in the Northern Hemisphere) people are standing up and celebrating the spring equinox that this year falls on March 20 at 6:45 p.m. in NoVA. 

In an area this culturally diverse and exciting, there are people of all backgrounds who celebrate the spring equinox in their own way. Here is a look at how a few different cultures welcome the new season and how you can get involved and celebrate them locally:

 Courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival


This year, Easter falls on April 5

When most of us think of Easter, egg hunts come to mind. With all the beautiful land in the area, there are countless events for kids to channel their inner Easter bunny and hop through the grass in search of eggs. 

1) Easter Egg Hunts at Ticonderoga Farms: March 21-22, 28-29; April 4-5

On the weekends, Ticonderoga Farms is a veritable Easter paradise. There will be farm animals (including baby bunnies), face painting, hay rides, a farmers market and, of course, egg hunts. Tickets are $12.95 a person. 

2) Easter Egg Hunt at Ida Lee Park: March 28

Ida Lee opens up its gates for children under 7 years old to hunt for candy-filled eggs while enjoying face painting, a jumbo slide and other amusements. Families are encouraged to bring lunches and set up picnics in the park. Tickets are $10 per child in advance and $15 at the gate. 

3) George C. Marshall International Center Easter Egg Hunt: April 4

At George C. Marshall International Center’s 5th annual Easter Egg Hunt, kids can meet the Easter bunny, decorate bags, participate in scavenger hunts and compete for who can find the most eggs. Admission is free.

4) White House Easter Egg Roll: April 6 

One of the most popular Easter traditions happens on the lawn of the White House where kids can listen to storytelling and hunt for eggs while parents can enjoy fitness zones and cooking demonstrations. Admission is free. 

5) Great Country Farms Easter Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Harvest: April 11-12 

With more than 18,000 hidden eggs and marshmallow peeps ready to be harvested off trees, kids will have the perfect Easter experience at Great Country Farms. There will also be spring chicks, baby animals and a wagon ride. Tickets are $10 for children and $12 for adults at the gate. Guests with a military ID are no charge. 



Passover is a Jewish holiday that will be celebrated April 3-11 this year to commemorate the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery.

Local Passover Events:

1) Community Seder at Sixth & I in D.C.: April 3; 7 p.m. 

There is no better place to celebrate Passover than at the historic synagogue at Sixth & I  surrounded by friends and family. Come and enjoy a traditional dinner with all kosher foods and listen to Larry Paul and Robyn Helzner lead you through a traditional Seder. This event is only appropriate for children 13 and up. Tickets range from $36-$54. 



Holi is a Hindu religious festival that welcomes springtime and commemorates fertility and a new harvest season. It is also referred to as the festival of colors or the festival of love and is primarily observed in India and Nepal. 

Holi is not called the festival of colors without cause. People dress in white and go out into the streets with colored powders, which are thrown into the air and smeared on one another. Water balloons are filled with colors and sprayed onto people as well leaving the entire city and everyone in it as colorful as possible.  

Local Holi Events: 

1) Holi DC “The Festival of Colors”: April 11-12 

Holi DC is an extension of the Holi celebrated in India and Nepal. People will gather, throw color into the air and celebrate spring, love and new life. There will be local musical acts as well as the performer Gaura Vani. Make sure to wear white and come ready to purchase colors at the festival. Admission is free. 



Nowruz, also known as the Persian New Year, is a celebration of the beginning of spring and officially begins on the spring equinox.

Nowruz is celebrated in several steps, the first of which is Chahar Shanbe Suri: The Fire Jumping Traditions. On the night of the last Wednesday of the past year, people light small bonfires in the streets and jump over the flames saying, “Zardie man az to, sorkhie to az man,” which means “may my sickly pallor be yours and your red glow be mine.”

To celebrate Nowruz, people also set a Haft-Seen Table, which translates as the Table of Seven S’s. Families set a table with seven symbolic items to herald in the new year.

As with all great celebrations, Nowruz is celebrated by eating traditional Persian dishes with extended family and friends.

Local Nowruz Events

1) Celebration of Nowruz: Sal Tahvil 1394 at Bethesda Marriott: March 20-21 

Bethesda Marriott hosts a Nowruz bash worthy of the new year. Count down and celebrate the exact moment that the seasons change from winter to spring, enjoy a traditional Nowruz buffet dinner provided by Amoo’s restaurant and let loose at the after party that features EE’s DJ Kia, DJ Mova, DJ Pedram and two additional surprise performances. Advanced tickets are $25 and tickets are $30 at the door. 

2) Nowruz: Persian New Year Celebration at The Beard House: March 21

Come and get a taste of Nowruz at the Beard House by feasting on symbolic foods. You can enjoy the best of  Persian cuisine while learning why and how certain foods are symbolic for the Persian New Year. Tickets are $130 for members and $170 for the general public. 


St. Patrick’s Day 

St. Patrick’s Day is a traditionally Irish celebration held on March 17 that commemorates the death date of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick is most often associated with the famous account of his banishing all snakes from Ireland, a legend that emerged from centuries of storytelling.

Local St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

1)The Dubliner in DC: March 17

The Dubliner is a true Irish pub settled right in the center of Washington, D.C. It was opened in 1974 and is an authentic Irish pub with live music seven nights a week. For St. Patrick’s Day the performers will be John McGrath, Morris Minor, Jimmy Raferty and Paddy Halligan. Leave the bars behind and get a taste of Ireland in this pub without ever leaving the East Coast. 

2) National Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium: March 21

The National Shamrock Fest is back at RFK stadium and is just as green as ever. There will be more than 30 performers, including Reel Big Fish, Carbon Leaf, Gaelic Storm, Blues Traveler and Bastard Bearded Irishmen. With five stages, Irish performers, loads of green merchandise and a variety of beer and food options, Shamrock Fest is the best way to get your annual dose of Irish. Individual tickets are $29.99 for the main event and $74.99 for VIP admission.  

3) Shamrock Pub Crawl in Arlington: March 21

St. Patrick’s Day is the one time a year when all the local bars turn themselves into pubs. There will be at least 13 participating bars that offer exclusive drink specials and party favors. Advanced tickets are $20 and tickets at the door are $30. 

Explore New Reads at these 4 local used bookstores

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Used Bookstores in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of sheff/shutterstock.com.

By Victoria Gaffney

There’s no doubt that Northern Virginia is filled with a strong sense of the past, often influencing a lot of its activities. The area boasts countless events for the history buff, not least of which is a trip to a local used bookstore

With Kindles and e-books on the rise, many of these quaint shops are closing, but this area is still home to some unique spaces to explore timeworn tomes. Engaging with passionate owners and managers who enjoy discussing these works is one of the perks of these more intimate literary settings. Here are some local places to indulge your interests, each with a strong focus on history, but unexpectedly unique features as well.

1.   Prospero’s Books

Located appropriately in Old Town Manassas, Prospero’s Books is a must for the history aficionado. Housed in a 104-year-old building originally designed for men’s clothing, the store features large display windows and boasts 93,000 titles at any given time, says manager Bob Chase. The shop was named for the Shakespeare character Prospero from “The Tempest.” Chase explains that when Prospero was made Duke of Milan, he was given a library; “I prize (it) above my dukedom,” Prospero says of his library in the play.

The store specializes in rare and out-of-print books, as well as maps and prints. Set on the very landscape where the first and second battles of the Civil War took place, Chase explains that their location likely drives their focus on military history. The shop also has extensive children’s and Afro-American history sections. Their “discover local authors” area features 18 Virginia writers at any given time, and they often host talks and signings.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, noon-6 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

9129 Center St.
Manassas, 20110

2.   Already Read Used Books

Husband and wife Diane Wilson and Ken Mahnken run their 9-year-old shop,“Already Read Used Books” in Alexandria. With over 25,000 volumes, this cozy store doesn’t just house great literature; here visitors will get to meet and spend time with cats Sweetie Pie and Gwenie Bee as well. When they select works for their collection, Wilson explains that they try to look for the lesser-read classics by well-known authors.

What makes this place especially distinctive is their bookbinding business located in the next room. Unlike other services like this, Wilson’s and Mahnken’s “Alexandria Book Binding” offers affordable repairs for simple fixes, mostly for cookbooks and bibles, and occasionally texts run over by a car. “We’re more book doctors than conservators,” Wilson explains.

The store receives all kinds of visitors; “many people that come in still love the smell of books,” says Wilson. She also feels that the use of Kindles doesn’t necessarily mean the end of physical volumes, particularly since there are plenty of works not available on them. Wilson feels there’s still something to be said for coming in and exploring the shelves; Amazon doesn’t allow for that same sense of exploration.


Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday and holidays, noon-6 p.m.

2501 Duke St.
Alexandria, 22314

3.   Bookhouse 

One place that’s not to be missed for history enthusiasts and bibliophiles alike is “Bookhouse” in Arlington—an actual house for books. Owner Natalie Hughes has been with the business at this100-year-old building since she started it 45 years ago. Carrying titles published as far back as 1850, the shop has a wide array of old volumes, some with and without dust jackets. Specializing in American history, half of the store features this subject. Everything else—from world history to art to architecture and religion—is contained on the second floor.

Boasting valuable antiquarian titles, this place still has something for everyone with books ranging from $2 to over $5,000. Hughes, 84, will be closing Bookhouse in a few years. Before it closes, her goal is to make sure everything in their collection is sold; as a result, many of the works are affordable.

Tuesday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m.

805 N Emerson St.

4.   Claude Moore Colonial Farm Bookstore

Located in an idyllic location, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm Bookstore in McLean is a cozy spot to sit back and leaf through a broad collection of old volumes. Tucked away on a winding road, the shop is literally off the beaten path. The titles are inexpensive and Phil Hanson, manager, explains that people can leave with a box (or more) filled with books. Featuring a kitchen, the store offers a space to enjoy coffee and cookies next to a collection of cookbooks and gardening texts. There is also a place to sit outside where the nonfiction is located.

Hanson explains that the store features a theme with a related display that changes every two weeks. Given the time of year, it’s currently focused on Irish history. Oftentimes events will correspond with the theme; they once had a Japanese tea while displaying volumes related to Japanese history and culture. For fun they also have a typewriter set up where people can test out this now-antiquated machine. Hanson explains that it’s entertaining to read what various people write. The reactions of children, unsurprisingly, can also be funny. He once heard a child say “Hey, mom look, the keyboard’s attached to the printer.”

Wednesday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m.
6310 Georgetown Pike
McLean 22101

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