Metro Weekly

The Abundant Joys of Atlas Intersections

The 15th annual Intersections Festival, currently underway at the Atlas, is shaping up to be the biggest yet.

Atlas Intersections: Black Leaves DC
Atlas Intersections: Black Leaves DC

A few years ago, back when they were a new, unknown organization, the Black Leaves Dance Company applied to be part of the annual Intersections Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

“I remember that first performance, when I actually saw them on the stage,” says Doug Yeuell, executive director of the Atlas. “I was like, ‘Oh! Wow. Okay, okay, this is good, this is good!'”

Over the years, the self-described “all-Black, all-male, queer-inclusive dance company” has become a staple at Intersections. More recently, they signed up to become an Atlas Resident Arts Partner, joining Joy of Motion Dance Center and Mosaic Theater Company of DC, among other entities all based at the Atlas.

A growing hub of artistic activity, the Atlas continues to be an icon of the H Street Corridor, the formerly derelict neighborhood in Northeast D.C. the center helped to revive nearly two decades ago.

Yet the Atlas has also established itself as one of the most ardent and dedicated boosters of the performing arts throughout the city. And the premiere manifestation of that commitment is Intersections, the multi-genre, multi-weekend series that this year celebrates its 15th anniversary.

“After weathering the storm with the pandemic, it’s really exciting to be able to continue to do this and to present all this great work and all this great art,” Yeuell says.

This year’s Intersections is shaping up to be the biggest festival yet — even bigger than those that came before the pandemic. “For this year’s festival, we had a record number of applications: over 80, in all genres of the performing arts,” says Yeuell. Organizers of this year’s festival scheduled a total of 35 programs over the course of three consecutive weekends — and then added a few more for good measure.

Atlas Intersections: Project Fusion
Atlas Intersections: Project Fusion

“We kind of stretched the festival out a little bit,” Yeuell explains, referring to the performances that have been scheduled to bookend the festival’s core three-weekend span, which runs from the last weekend in February to the second weekend of March. This year’s festival won’t officially draw to a close until the end of April — over a month after the festival’s last full weekend — when festival mainstay Furia Flamenca Dance Company is scheduled to take the stage for a show tracing the origins of flamenco.

Festival performances are broken down into “branded categories [of] story, movement, and sound,” Yeuell says. “‘Story’ is predominantly theater and spoken word, ‘movement’ is dance, and ‘sound’ is musical, either instrumental or choral.

“We always have a preponderance of dance or movement applications,” he continues, noting that roughly half of the total number of applicants this year came from dance artists. “Dance requires a certain amount of space in order to execute properly, especially if you’re doing leaps and jumps — it needs space to breathe and to move.”

The highlights in movement programming include performances this weekend by Moveius Contemporary Ballet, Silk Road DC, and Jane Franklin Dance; next weekend by Dissonance Dance Theatre, Elements Dance Company, and a joint “Percussive Tap Dance Journey” with Capitol Tap, District Tap, and Monumental Tap; and the second weekend in March with Black Leaves, Next Reflex Dance Collective, Capitol Movement, Inc., and the CityDance Conservatory.

The sound slate kicks off this weekend with a concert by Capital City Symphony, another Atlas Resident Arts Partner, the cabaret “This Is Everything Concerts” featuring four diverse vocalists with piano accompaniment, and a concert by the rock and soul collective A.F.R.O.B.A.M., returning after a sold-out debut show last year.

Atlas Intersections: Too Damn Much
Atlas Intersections: Too Damn Much

Sound highlights to come the first weekend of March include Gisele Jackson, a string quartet part of the Empath Concerts series, and the “electroacoustic classical group” Fuse Ensemble; while the second weekend of March offers jazz from the Bill Barner Trio, the Andrew Simpson Ensemble performing a new bluegrass-inspired score set to Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality, and the Gutowski-Sim Duo showcasing classical chamber works for flute and piano by composers of underrepresented groups.

Story is represented at this year’s Intersections with this weekend’s dance/spoken word piece from Dr. Janaki Rangarajan; next weekend’s dramatic play from Too Much Damn Theater, a one-man show from actor/poet/comedian Vincent Stovall styled as a sequel of sorts to his performance last year, and a program of life stories shared by four spoken-word poets part of The Artist Network; and then the second weekend of March presents a dramatic one-man show with choreography written and performed by Christian Ty Edwards, and a program of musical performance and spoken word inspired by African art as performed by members of Arete Arts.

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone,” says Yeuell. “Lots to enjoy, lots to experience. We look forward to presenting some really great art.”

The Intersections Festival 2024 takes place over the next three weekends, plus a final program on Saturday, April 27, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Ticket prices vary. For a full schedule and more information, call 202-399-7993 or visit

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