Arts Desk

Openings: Age of Champions, “Changing America,” Classical Ballets

What's new this weekend in local arts.

It's a big week for openings at museums, as the Smithsonian rolls out some exhibits that will be on display through most of 2013. And with it being the holiday season, a few favorites return in slightly different forms. Now that the weather is finally cooling off for good (we think), it's the perfect time to spend a few hours checking out what's new in entertainment around the city.

Age of Champions

When Age of Champions premiered at Silverdocs in 2011, City Paper was won over by the tales of elder athletes and their feats of greatness. The documentary is about the National Senior Olympics, a biennial sporting competition for senior citizens and highlights several of the older participants, including a basketball team of grandmothers from Louisiana and a 100-year-old tennis champion from Massachusetts.

Age of Champions will air on PBS in 2013, but has screened around the country in the meantime. It returns to the D.C. area tomorrow for a screening sponsored by AARP's You've Earned A Say program; joining filmmaker Keith Ochwat are Brad and John Tatum, 91- and 93-year old swimmers from D.C. who feature prominently in the documentary. The Tatums offer an interesting look at life in the District in 20th century. When they first learned to swim in the 1920s, public pools weren't integrated—but that didn't stop them. They swam anywhere they could, including in the Potomac River, the C&O Canal, and the Reflecting Pool. They finally got their chance to shine at the Senior Olympics and continue to swim regularly at pools around the District, since their former practice locations now ban swimming. For more stories from the Tatums, stop by tomorrow's free screening. As you'll see in the film, they're quite talkative. Screens on Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Chapel at Howard Divinity School, 1400 Shepherd St. NE. A Q&A with Ochwat and the Tatums follows. Free. ageofchampions.org.

"Changing America"

In commemoration of two milestone moments in American history—the 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington—today, the Smithsonian unveils "Changing America," its new exhibition that will run through most of next year. The exhibition will feature documents and artifacts that recall the reality of both events, including the pen Abraham Lincoln used to draft the proclamation, the top hat he wore to Ford’s Theater, and a shawl worn by Harriet TubmanRuns to Sept. 15 at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Ave. NW. Free.

The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty

The Manassas Ballet Theatre unveils its production of The Nutcracker this Friday, featuring beautiful choreography, stunning costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s memorable score performed by a full orchestra. Runs to Dec. 23 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA. $35-55.

Those looking for another dose of fantasy can find it in the Kirov Academy of Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, which incorporates other fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood and the White Cat into the classic sleeping damsel story. Runs to Dec. 15 at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U Street NW. $20-40.

Nam June Paik

On Thursday, the Smithsonian American Art Museum unveiled its exhibition “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” which features artwork and documents from the Korean-born artist’s archives. Called “the father of video art,” Paik used technology to as a medium to inspire thought on the developing global media culture. The exhibition features renowned pieces on loan from private and public collections. Runs to Aug. 11, 2013 at the American Art Museum, 8th and F streets NW. Free.

Les Misérables

And finally, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that a little movie called Les Misérables is  coming out this Christmas. If you can’t wait to get your fix of tortured French men and women, check out the original beast of a musical at the National Theatre. This new production, revamped in celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary, features re-imagined staging and scenery, but sticks to Victor Hugo's original tale of love, redemption, and social justice. Runs to Dec. 30 at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $55-$198.

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