Ibrahimof, who’s fresh from a stint as an artistic adviser to New York’s Fall for Dance festival, says he’s drawn to the many young choreographers who are “pushing the art form forward and doing new things with it.” And though he admits that he has a soft spot for contemporary ballet, flamenco and traditional Indian dance forms, the 33-year-old full-time artist manager and part-time curator says it’s important to bring a wide range of artists and dance styles to the Rialto stage.
Under his curatorial influence, the second Off the EDGE will be markedly different from its predecessor in 2012, which focused on American contemporary dance. A New York tapper, a French hip-hop company of Brazilian dancers and a contemporary-ballet troupe based in England: Atlanta audiences will have the rare opportunity to see these and other performers in the same weekend. The festival has been dubbed a “biennial dance immersion,” a fitting description for such an eclectic mix.
Perhaps the most buzz-worthy performances on the 2014 program are two duets by acclaimed British choreographer Wayne McGregor. Members of McGregor’s London-based company, Random Dance, will perform excerpts from his recent works “Far” and “Entity.”
The choreographer is known for his mastery (and possibly creation) of a new duet form that encompasses both the presentational precision of classical ballet and the humanistic quirkiness of contemporary partnering. His influence in the world of contemporary ballet is vast. In 2006, McGregor became the first contemporary-dance maker to be named resident choreographer of the Royal Ballet, and since then he has continued to develop his signature movement style: a seamless blend of balletic lines and frenzied, fluid physicality.
In contrast to McGregor, most of the other choreographers on the bill are young or emerging. Ibrahimof says he wanted to highlight new artistic voices as well as established companies. Among these is Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which will return to Atlanta with a performance of “Never Was” by young Spanish choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Atlanta Ballet will present Jennifer Archibald’s “Sweet Sorrow,” a piece that was commissioned for the 2013 Wabi Sabi and recently performed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Representing dance styles not often seen on the concert stage will be the French-based Compagnie Käfig, with its theatrical hip-hop work “Käfig Brazil,” and tap dancer Michelle Dorrance, who will perform with Atlanta-born singer and former “American Idol” contestant Aaron Marcellus. Kennesaw State University’s Dance Department, in partnership with the Rialto, will present Ivan Pulinkala’s new work “Touchdown,” a response to the school’s recent announcement that it will be adding a football team. KSU’s Athletic Department is sponsoring that work.
Also on the program is the young Brooklyn-based company Dance Heginbotham, under the direction of John Heginbotham, a former veteran dancer with Mark Morris Dance Group. Founded just two years ago, the company appeared at the 2013 Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival and will make its Brooklyn Academy of Music debut at the Next Wave Festival this month. Dance Heginbotham will present three works: “throwaway” and “Twin” on Friday night and “Waltz Ending” on Saturday.
Flash mobs choreographed by Heginbotham and Dorrance will pop up during the festival, as will a number of site-specific performances dubbed “Edge in Unexpected Places,” choreographed by local artists selected by CORE Performance Company Director Sue Schroeder.