Photo by ALANA HILL
As most urbanites know, a city is more than just a location on a map or a collection of skyscrapers and street vendors. Every metropolis is a living, breathing, organism in its own right, comprised of its own unique culture.
The District is no different. There is much more to the city than the politics up on the Hill and the manicured perfection of Georgetown. There is a wealth of diversity and artistic talent that lies beneath the surface and it is not any less legitimate for that fact. The Intersections Art Festival, a new endeavor from the Atlas Performing Center, aims to display and fuse both of these aspects. Taking place during the weekends between Feb. 19 and March 7, the festival has brought together a wide range of performers and artists and given them the freedom to express themselves.
Diversity in all senses is truly a main focus of the festival. Performers represent all age groups, ethnicities and artistic pursuits. There is also a strong emphasis placed on audience interaction, a number of workshops and question-and-answer sessions being offered.
The event features a long and impressive list of attractions. Shows range from two local children’s choirs performing together to the hip-hop troupe DCypher DC and the hilarious, cutting-edge storytelling of SpeakeasyDC: Wetbacks, Aliens and Towelheads. As a whole, the festival offers exhibitions in dance, theater, music and film, as well as the visual and literary arts.
“Each of us is on our own journey. But as we travel, we reach crossroads — the points at which our journeys meet — launching the possibility that we will go in new directions as individuals, as a community, as a society,” Artistic Director Mary Hall Surface wrote on the festival’s Web site.
She also said the audience will experience a powerful understanding of how all these different arts come together.
“At Intersections, audiences will experience those dynamic junctures and discover the energy that is ignited when ways and worlds collide and coalesce through the power of the arts,” Hall wrote on the site.
This event is representative of both the past and future of H Street, where it is being held. Originally an affluent commercial center, it entered a period of decline after World War II and was not able to rebound after the 1968 riots. In this century, however, it has undergone a period of revitalization, during which it became a hub for arts and entertainment. The Atlas Performing Arts Center can be seen as the core of this new movement. While the resurgence has been very positive for the area, its history cannot be forgotten. Once a very ethnically diverse area of the city, the festival aims to carry that spirit into today.
This weekend will be the last one for the festival, but there are still many events lined up. They include a community read of a Raisin in the Sun hosted by the Wooly Mammoth Theatre Company and performances from the Joy of Motion Dance Center Youth Company. The musical styling of up-and-coming local singer Christylez Bacon is also part of the festival, along with the interactive exhibition Cultural DC Tourism: Tell Your H Street NE Stories and many more events.
Though only in its first year, the Intersections Festival has already done a great deal in furthering the rich cultural landscape of the city. It offers a unique experience to enjoy, appreciate and analyze the diversity that makes up the District and our nation. Though nearly impossible to take in all the events that span the three-weekend time period, by looking through the Festival’s events, audience members can become much more aware of all the city has to offer.
For more information on the Intersections Arts Festival, check out intersectionsdc.org.