Paige Hernandez performs Paige in Full as part of the Atlas Performing Arts Centers Intersections festival the next two weekends.
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.’”
Hernandez hopes the festival’s emphasis on leaving the comfort zone will encourage new audiences to attend her shows. Although her work is inspired by and written for the young and multi- ethnic, its themes have universal appeal.
“It’s about that place where you’re just trying to figure out where you fit,” she said. “Just realizing that sometimes you don’t have to go fit into a box or fit into a clique. It sucks to be bullied, but all that stuff helps you ... figure out who the real you is.”
The festival will feature a diverse assortment of theater, dance, sculpture and film. One piece draws inspiration from the unlikely combination of choreographer Isadora Duncan and composer Frederic Chopin, while another draws together sources from across America in a spoken-word piece exploring family relationships.
In the performance “Getting Airborne,” modern dancers and trapeze artists collaborate to explore the notion of flight. The show, which will benefit D.C. youth, also hopes that through circus skills, the artists can empower young people and build community.
Many of the festival’s events are similarly geared for children. A dance operetta for families, “Mirandy and Brother Wind,” runs each day of the festival. Saturdays are designated as “family days” and feature events tailored to a younger crowd.
In a variety of ways, the festival’s many events reflect on life’s journey and its many intersections.
“When you’re entering an intersection you have to make a choice,” Surface said. “Am I going to go forward, or am I going to take a bold new turn. ... We really want people to embrace the arts as a place where they can gather and learn and reach new understandings about each other.”
“Intersections: A New America” arts festival continues on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays March 4-13. Hernandez will perform “Paige in Full” March 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12.