In the Moment: Atlas Intersections Festival 2017: Four Dance Troupes: Company Danzante, Jane Franklin Dance, Gin Dance Company, and Rebollar Dance.

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This year’s Atlas Intersections Festival has a theme of “where the art world and the real world intersect. The Festival aims to “engage audiences and artists alike by sparking conversation, deeper connection, and community transformation.”

The Atlas Intersection Festival is also a key cross-performing arts incubator for homegrown talents from across the District, Maryland, and Virginia. As an example, the 2017 Intersections Festival is welcoming Northern Virginia-based dance companies into the midst of the hustling bustling, diverse energy of the H Street trolley car corridor.

This column will focus a spotlight on four very different Northern Virginia-based professional dance troupes performing at the 2017 Intersections Festival. Each of these dance companies will dig into their own dance styles and underpinning music to transport the H Street audiences. In some cases Atlas patrons even have an opportunity to participate.

What is also unique about these four dance troupes is that they are led by women artistic directors and choreographers. They are Company DanzanteJane Franklin DanceGin Danceand Rebollar Dance.

From interviews with each of the dance company’s leadership it is clear that beyond entertainment, they want to inspire, connect and uplift. Here are some quotes that give a hint of what each company hopes to provide at this year’s Atlas Intersections Festival

“A viewpoint of the real world through the artistic expression of dance and will aim to encourage unity, empathy, and understanding for our fellow citizens who have many of the same aspirations,” said Jane Franklin, of Jane Franklin Dance.

“To use contemporary dance to relate to our audience offering them the opportunity to reflect on their lives, as well as to share the joy, pain, struggle, and beauty of human life.” said Katherine Horrigan, of Company Danzante.

“To be imaginative, athletic, and rich in detail, driving audiences to reflect on the visible and invisible world around us.” said Erica Rebollar, of Rebollar Dance.

“To provide an escape from the daily grind while still serving as a catalyst to look introspectively at their lives, engage others, and ultimately shape their future by being fully engaged in the present,” said Shu-Chen Cuff, of Gin Dance.

More detail information about each dance company’s appearance at the Intersections Festival is below; it has been culled from my wide-ranging, open-ended interviews.

Photo courtesy of Company Danzante.

Katherine Horrigan, Company Danzante:

Company Danzante curates productions that focus on human experiences, stories and their emotional context. Through this performance entitled On This Road, we will aim to use contemporary dance to relate to our audience offering them the opportunity to reflect on their lives, as well as to share the joy, pain, struggle, and beauty of human life. This performance presents a viewpoint of the real world through the artistic expression of dance and will aim to encourage unity, empathy, and understanding for our fellow citizens who have many of the same aspirations.

On This Road shares the voices of four contemporary dance choreographers who explore the subjects of identity, personality, and relationships. Each work in the production though unique in viewpoint and design, tie together as human stories that reflect on life’s journey and how we deal with the challenges and joys along the way…we aim to remind one another that we are less different than alike and through dance share both the humor and beauty of human nature.

The performance includes the world premiere, From the Shadows, by guest choreography Karen Reedy. Ms. Reedy, a local choreographer and dance professor at George Mason University. The premiere was made possible in part through the company’s support by the Arlington County Commission for the Arts.

The program also includes works by co-directors Arturo Garcia and Katherine Horrigan, as well as by guest artist Marcus Willis, former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Gin Dance. Photo courtesy of Gin Dance.

Shu-Chin Cuff, Gin Dance:  

Enriching lives through dance, through our production of ‘Spring in Your Step,’ it’s our hope and desire that each member of the audience will find themselves reflecting upon their lives, who they are and their role and position in the community at large. Each piece builds on the premise that by encouraging each of us to see the good in others and to appreciate and connect with each other we form a stronger and better community.

This year we are excited to be premiering Artistic Director Shu-Chen Cuff’s newest work ‘Burgundy’ an edgy, electrifying, and energetic dance along with GDC’s critically acclaimed and audience favorite signature pieces ‘Solitaire’ and the vivid and humorous ‘Hello! Goodbye!’.  There is no better way to greet this spring season with this fun and uplifting performance!

For this production, we will take the audience on a journey that will be fun, uplifting and entertaining. It will provide an escape from the daily grind while still serving as a catalyst to look introspectively at their lives, engage others, and ultimately shape their future by being fully engaged in the present. We are, after all, in this thing call ‘life’ together.

Jane Franklin Dance. Photo courtesy of the company.

Jane Franklin, Jane Franklin Dance: 

The company will offer form two different performances at the Intersections Festival.

Especially for children at the Intersections Family Series the company will perform The Big Meow. “It is about the desire to belong, even when you are a bit different, as in this case, ‘Little Cat’ seems to have a big meow and all the other cats think it is annoying. However, they do decide to enlist “Little Cat” to stand up for the group against the protagonist, a bulldog named “Bruno.” Eventually everyone does learn it is better to exalt in the differences and that it is okay to be different. The show is movement, music and text built around a story-line adapted from the book by Baltimore writer, Elizabeth Spires. “It is encouraged to wear cat attire” such as cat ears, tails, or leopard prints of all styles.

The second will be Trek (The Migration Project), for the Intersections Story Series. Trek is about relocation, immigration and the American Dream. The dance troupe interviewed fifteen area residents for the show about their experience of coming to this country; or about an experience of a past generation.

“The stories are very different but similar in the desire to find more opportunity or to escape persecution or hardship. We layer fragments of the stories with music and movement. The other component we add is visual, art by Rosemary Covey and video by Dawn Whitmore.”

The audience will have the opportunity to move during the course of the performance including standing onstage while the dance takes place on the risers. The audience will be encouraged “to take a different seat after standing onstage; even in a theatre, things can look very different from a different perspective.”

Robollar Dance. Photo courtesy of the company.

Erica Rebollar, Rebollar Dance:

Partnering together are Rebollar Dance (DC/Northern Virginia-area), Deep Vision (Baltimore), and RealLivePeople (Philadelphia) dance companies. They will be “intersecting” to create an evening-length collaborative tour to each other’s home city called Impacting Spaces.

It will be an imaginative, athletic, and rich in detail, driving audiences to reflect on the visible and invisible world around us. Together the Artistic Director/ Choreographers of the three companies invite audiences to investigate “space” in unique ways – the space of creation, psychological spaces, and the perceived space between us. Audiences are invited to see the performance and see for yourselves.

Deep Vision Dance Company’s Nicole A. Martinell invites audiences to go on a spiraling journey through the fabric of space-time, delving into the nature of human existence and our connection to the greater universe. Martinell’s hope is for audiences to feel completely immersed and transported to a new, multi-layered world while experiencing a range of emotions.

RealLivePeople will cultivate a performance space where vulnerability and virtuosity live side by side. We strive to share rather than to show and offer opportunities for audience members to find a foothold and bring themselves to the often overwhelming world of contemporary dance.

As the 2017 Atlas Intersections Festival marketing material notes. “The Atlas is proud to have the Intersections Festival as a major programming initiative that enriches the local and greater regional community.” Well said. And it all takes place over the two weekends.

The 2017 Atlas Intersections Festival is taking place from February 24-March 5, 2017at Atlas Performing Arts Center – 1333 H Street NE, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online.

Specific information and tickets for the dance performances discussed in this article are:

Company Danzante:  2/26 @ 5 p.m.

Gin Dance: 3/4 @ 8 p.m.

Jane Franklin Dance:  2/25 @ 9:30 a.m. and 2/25 @ 3 p.m.

The Big Meow and Trek

Rebollar Dance:  2/25 @ 8 p.m.  and 2/26 @ 7 p. m.

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