Paige Hernandez performs Paige in Full as part of the Atlas Performing Arts Centers Intersections festival the next two weekends.
She calls her show a “mix tape,” but the term could also describe artist Paige Hernandez herself.
Like the cassette tapes popular in the ’80s, Hernandez is a jumble of influences and sounds that, when organized together, form an evocative and meaningful whole.
Black, Cuban and Chinese, Hernandez is a poet, writer and choreographer. Her show, “Paige in Full,” incorporates poetry, monologue and dance to tell the story of her life, beginning with an exploration of her childhood when she was bullied as a mixed-race girl in an urban public school. In the hourlong performance, she explores troubled relationships, love, family and loss, creating more than 25 characters, reading 18 poems and 12 monologues and dancing six full pieces.
“By the end of the show I find my identity, or the identity I want to be in as an adult,” Hernandez said. “It’s a young girl at a crossroads in her life, trying to figure out all the intersections.”
Such themes fit perfectly into the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s second annual Intersections festival, which will continue through this weekend and next. The festival aims to bring together not only a diverse array of art forms but also a diverse array of artists differing in race, culture, age and skill level.
“We want to celebrate what it is we have in common and to provide a kaleidoscope of perspectives about who we are as individuals, as a community and as a nation,” said Mary Hall Surface, the festival’s artistic director.
Intersections endeavors to “animate democracy,” by bringing everyone to the table onstage and off, according to Surface. “It’s a place where roads meet and paths cross,” she said. “Where we come together at that crossing there is a spark of energy and it’s an energy that transforms.”
Thanks to the festival’s inclusive spirit, professional and student artists share the same intimate stages. For instance on Sunday, a group mixed Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry with flamenco on a stage only just vacated by a D.C.-based playwright’s world premiere. Next weekend, the Washington Ballet’s international stars will perform in the same space.
The festival encourages audiences to attend shows they may not otherwise attend, by grouping its events by themes like “New Artistic Directions” or “Voices From a New America,” rather than sorting them into genres like theatre and music. “We’re trying to encourage people to go down roads they haven’t gone down before,” Surface said. “They say, ‘I’ve never seen something like this or that.’”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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