Arts Desk

A Quick Reading of WaPo’s “The Capital’s Personal Bests”

As much fun as it is to ask Washington's power elite about their cultural tastes at the end of every year, our elected officials rarely stray from safe, vanilla choices. Though President Barack Obama once called The Wire his favorite TV show—even singling out Omar Little as his favorite character—he often cites SportsCenter as his preference, even calling it an essential part of his marriage.  And the movies? Don't get the politicians started on talking about their favorite movies, lest you want more performances like Vice President Joe Biden's rambling assessment of Avatar.

But in today's WaPo Style section Jacqueline Trescott and Dan Zak asked two dozen of D.C.'s actual tastemakers to list their favorite performances and cultural moments of 2010. The picks by this assortment of artists, theater directors, musicians, and even Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier ranged from the Adams Morgan Day Festival (where the addition of a mayoral campaign to this year's edition excited Anacostia Art Gallery owner Juanita Britton) to Lady Gaga's June concert at the Verizon Center (Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer's pick) to the opening of the new Arena Stage (a favorite of chef-restauranteur Ashok Bajaj).

A few of the picks verified some of the arguments made in City Paper's Music in Review issue last week. Trescott and Zak got ahold of Christoph Eschenbach, the National Symphony Orchestra's new musical director who debuted in September before decamping to a Parisian sabbatical only a month later. True to form Eschenbach, couldn't muster a local pick, offering only a production of a Rodion Shchedrin work by the Kirov Ballet when the St. Petersburg-based company visited the City of Lights. But don't get mad at Eschenbach for blowing us off; he did enjoy a backstage conversation with the ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, whom he calls "the greatest ballerina after Anna Pavlova—a living legend!"

DJ and U Street Music Hall co-owner Will Eastman echoed City Paper Arts Editor Jonathan L. Fischer's cover story on Moombahton, saying Dave Nada's nascent brand of dance music "really...hit a nerve in the dance music community." That is to say Nada, who departed for Los Angeles last month, "made it really sexy" and gave it "a lot of swag" by blending house sounds with reggaeton, Eastman told WaPo today.

Most people queried for this roundup gave an out-of-town choice in addition to their D.C. pick (except Eschenbach, of course). The New York performance of John Logan's play Red got some love from Phillips Collection director Dorothy Kosinski and Studio Theatre artistic director David Muse, while Philippa Hughes found the Takashi Murakami exhibit at Versailles "mind-blowing."

As for our chief of police? "I can't remember the last time I saw a movie or a play," Lanier told The Post.

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