Recently I got out to see a live dance performance for the first time in too long. Hello! The arts! The city! How is it that I forget about this vibrant urban center minutes away from home? Oh yes, winter – I think I’ve been hibernating.
The performance was on H Street, a quickly developing neighborhood (yes, gentrifying) full of creative folks full of ambition – restaurateurs, artists, and that trolley line that keeps getting delayed (when is that going to be up and running, anyway?). I read about it in the news, but visiting is an entirely different experience.
Things were especially lively the day we visited: the lobby of the Atlas Performing Arts Center, a focal point of the neighborhood, was hopping. Kids were everywhere, many of them milling around members of the Capital City Symphony at their instrument “petting zoo.” The musicians were showing the children their instruments up close and personal.
The Atlas is much more than a theater, which is one of the things I love about it. I once attended a rehearsal for a dance mob in the studio there, and there are regular classes, camps, films, storytelling, interactive performance, music, poetry and more, year round (yes, even when I am hibernating). On this day it was hosting the third weekend of Intersections, a festival designed to allow artists to mix it up across genres. For audiences, that means dance, music and lots of artistic collaboration all in one place. How did I miss this? It was the last of three weekends jam-packed with performing art. I vowed to pay more attention, read beyond the movie times in the Washington Post Weekend, pick up City Paper, check out the dance websites for performances around town.
Our show was upstairs, a thought-provoking and moving dance about global warming, presented by Moveius Contemporary Ballet, a local company. It was technically challenging – in a good way – and included some top-notch ballet dancers who were so convincingly fluid I wept for the melting glaciers, depicted not only in movement but also on a suggestive video projected behind the dancers.
Another advantage to living so close to the city: Everything connects. Moveius was partially funded by my town, the City of Takoma Park, according to the program – I am guessing it includes residents of Takoma Park and/or we wanted to support its environmental exploration of global warming. Also Capital City Symphony, performing out in the lobby, includes several Takoma Park residents, and performs regularly at our community center.
And third, one of the dancers works in another department at the American Federation of Teachers, where I write about higher education. He is the reason my friends, also colleagues, suggested the outing in the first place, and we were tickled to pick him out on stage before we got swept up into the performance itself.
I am grateful to him, and to so many others like him, for pulling us all into the arts – and for going the extra mile to maintain an artistic life outside the confines of a day job. I get so caught up in my own life, I don’t even get out to see these performances, much less rehearse and present them myself.
Thanks to Moveius, and Atlas, H Street (especially the fabulously fun and funky Dangerously Delicious Pies, where we went for an après-show snack) and the friends who invited me to explore it all: The arts are back on my radar screen.
Look for me at the theater.