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Intersections: A New America Arts Festival"

WI Staff Writer | 3/8/2012, 3:22 p.m.

Enters Third Year with Expanded Performances at The Atlas

Where is the one place the eclectic arts-lover can go to take in dogs in tandem with their comedian owners, classical Indian dance, new age jazz, hip-hop performance theater, a gay date night and family-oriented theater all under one roof? The Atlas Performing Arts Center, of course!

Those who have attended the first two years of "Intersections: A New America Arts Festival" have likely become accustomed to experiencing a seemingly impossible range of concerts, dance recitals, theater, performance art and other genres which defy exact definition conveniently packed into three days, three weekends.

This year, the three-weekend festival, which opened the latter part of February and runs through March 11, features the best established and emerging artists from the District and its environs--and then some. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday.

"We were eager to increase the number of opportunities for both artists to perform and audiences to attend," said Mary Hall Surface, festival artistic director.

"Thursday has become a popular night for attending arts events and going out in general, so we added Thursdays to meet both demand [having many sold out shows at last year's festival] and to increase opportunity."

Last year, "Intersections" attracted more than 9,200 art-loving visitors, up from 6,000 in its first year, according to Sam Sweet, executive director of the Atlas. "This gave us the confidence to expand the festival this year to 12 days over three weekends," he said.

"We want the Atlas to be a center for community conversation, where a range of artistic experiences can be celebrated, and we've recognized that the lobby and the cafe area are just like a town square, with people coming together to talk about what they've just seen, give tips to other attendees, or enjoy a free performance at the Cafe stage, which we now think of as a vital performance space."

"Intersections" encompasses more than 150 main-stage performances, 30 free cafe concerts and 25 special events. While some artists are new to "Intersections," others like hip-hop performance artist Paige Hernandez, who returned this year with a follow-up to last year's "Paige in Full" with "Liner Notes," local--yet world class--jazz singer Imani with her trio, and the Spilled Ink Project and Srishti Dances of India have been with the festival since its debut in 2010.

With a major focus on cultivating relationships with artists and performances for audiences that encompass the diversity of the Washington metropolitan area, "Intersections" endeavors not to leave anyone out.

"Intersections celebrates the arts as a spark for conversation and connection of artists and audiences of all ages, races, cultures and art forms," Surface added. "In our 'Discover the New America' themed shows [one of our three festival thematic roadmaps], we choose companies that give voice to specific communities within the kaleidoscope of contemporary culture. We're eager to include the GLBT community and perspective as a part of the fabric of D.C. and beyond, just as we include senior, youth, African-American, Hispanic, Indian-American and others."