Intersections: Dissonance Dance Theatre
As a society, we put up far too many borders — and not only in the literal, wall-building physical sense. There are also “those dividing lines that people often experience in their lives for one reason or the other because of their race, their gender,” Jane Franklin says. “There are all those groupings and sub-groupings. We seem to find ourselves pulled apart from…people who are different.”
The Arlington-based choreographer explores those themes in a new work that her eponymous dance company will perform at this year’s Atlas Intersections Festival. Border is based on interviews that Franklin conducted with nearly two dozen community members — many of them immigrants pursuing citizenship or refugees seeking asylum — whose experiences, told in their own words, helped shape the piece’s movement. Border is a perfect fit for Intersections, whose tagline is “where the art world and the real world intersect.”
“We’re always looking to present art and artists that…in many ways informs and educates us about issues and concerns and themes of the day,” says Douglas Yeuell, executive director of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Now in its 10th year, Intersections, over the next two weekends, will present 50 performances and roughly 200 artists, ranging from musicians to filmmakers, dancers to speakers.
It’s a great, welcoming festival with a wide range of things happening,” says Franklin, an Intersections participant for several years. “And it’s a wonderful opportunity for us. Since so much of our work is very collaborative, the festival is really appealing to us, [presenting] opportunities to work with other artists from other disciplines to experiment.”
Here are some highlights, several of particular LGBTQ note:
Jane Franklin Dance — Border, Saturday, Feb. 23, at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $25.
*Dissonance Dance Theatre — The top-notch professional company founded and led by gay African-American choreographer Shawn Short presents Fluid, an evening-length contemporary ballet drawing inspiration from physical theater and Afro-modern dance, set to the music of Ezio Bosso, and featuring a cast exploring the emotional issues of trust, lost, betrayal, and love. Sunday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m. tickets are $30.
*Riot Brrrain: Reading & Roundtable — An unconventional musical, first presented at last year’s Capital Fringe, and billed as an “epic punk-filled journey” that follows a neurosyphilitic man’s quest “to track down the culprit who passed on the pox.” Writer Caitlin M. Caplinger, composer Natasha Janfaza, and dramaturg Sarah Pultz will participate in a post-reading discussion about issues raised by the work, including mental health, sexuality, and gender. Sunday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. Free.
*City at Peace with the GenOUT Youth Chorus — The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s youth ensemble will be the special guests of City at Peace, the youth development program, directed by Sandi Holloway of the Atlas, which aims to provide a safe and nurturing space for those aged 14 to 24 to examine issues and conditions that divide them — or in this case, to collaborate with GenOUT youth to navigate their way out of an escape room. Saturday, March 2, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15.
*The In Series: Duke Ellington’s Neighborhood — Designed with children and families in mind, the program features a live jazz trio and singers paying tribute to the homegrown jazz pioneer who influenced the Harlem Renaissance and helped shape the cultural history of D.C. Saturday, March 2, at 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
*Not What You Think — Started as an a cappella ensemble of the former Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, the group pursues equality and social justice through performance of pop, jazz, and folk. Sunday, March 3, at 5:15 p.m. Free.
Intersections kicks off with a Launch Party on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and runs this weekend and next at the Atlas, 1333 H St. NE. A festival pass is $75; individual ticket prices vary. Call 202-399-7993 or visit www.atlasarts.org/intersections for a full schedule and details.