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Modern Atlanta Dance Festival will offer new works and a few surprises

There is an upset or two on this year’s lineup of Modern Atlanta Dance Festival choreographers, Douglas Scott told me last Saturday at a performance by his company, Full Radius Dance. Some “in” groups from the past are out; others, not chosen recently, were pleasantly surprised.

Whether due to the judges’ tastes or a creative upsurge, the fresh array will likely further the festival’s aims: to introduce new audiences to a variety of modern and contemporary dance styles, to offer mostly Atlanta-area choreographers a professional performance venue, and to bring area dancers, choreographers and audiences together. This year’s MAD festival is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Marcus Jewish Community Center’s Frank Theatre in Dunwoody.

Full Radius Dance

Scott has directed Full Radius Dance for about 20 years. The troupe most notably incorporates performers with and without wheelchairs on stage, stretching the physical and expressive possibilities of their modern dance idiom.

Based on Saturday’s concert at 7 Stages, the word “disability” is not in Scott’s vocabulary. Performers in shiny metallic wheelchairs spin, glide, tilt and whirl, partnering and supporting dancers in clearly conceived, theatrical works that please the eye. Given the situation, these pieces could easily sink into what dance critic Arlene Croce termed “victim art.” But Full Radius artists refuse to be victims and get on with the business of making art.

An active member of the local dance community, Scott started the MAD Festival 16 years ago, and he says it’s the only adjudicated contemporary dance showcase in the state. The criteria are simple: professional-level, modern or contemporary choreography that’s appropriate for all ages.

Out-of-state judges include Rebecca Stenn, whose New York-based company of dancers and musician-composers builds collaborative works from Pilobolus and MOMIX traditions, and Carolyn Dorfman, whose troupe, based in Union, New Jersey, has a longstanding reputation for its focus on shared humanity through modern dance — a viewpoint similar to that of Full Radius. Another distinguished judge is Ernesta Corvino, a New York-based ballet teacher and choreographer whose credits include serving as ballet master for the José Limón Dance Company and Pina Bausch/Tanztheater Wuppertal.

CORE Performance Company in "The Point." (Photo by Mark Teague)

Here’s the lineup for the 2011 Modern Atlanta Dance Festival:

CORE Performance Company will perform “The Moment Between,” choreographed by Sue Schroeder and Jhon Stronks. The piece explores “the ‘space between’ that allows the body and mind to encompass the paradox of emptiness and form.”

Sarah Konner‘s and Austin Selden’s “Dirty Up to the Knuckles” presents a “specific yet universal romantic relationship between two self-aware individuals.” According to the University of Michigan website, Konner, from Atlanta, and Selden graduated from the university in 2010 and were chosen to perform this dance-theater work at the national ACDFA National Festival last May at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

Independent artist and choreographer Sandra Shih Parks’ “Little Broken Steps” examines the centuries-old Chinese custom of foot binding. Parks portrays women walking with bound feet to represent the low status of women in Chinese history.

Louise Runyon‘s and Lynne Hess’ duet, “Blue Steel,” blends personal experiences of Hesse’s 24 years working as a police officer and Runyon’s 6 1/2 years as a steelworker.

Independent artist and choreographer Kristyn McGeehan’s abstract duet “In Control” explores mental disorders associated with body issues, set to the frenzied “Toccata II” from Pēteris Vasks’ String Quartet No. 4.


Good Moves Consort in "2 in a Pod, 3 in a Tub, 1 Stands Alone." (Photo by Will Day)

Good Moves Consort will perform “2 in a Pod, 3 in a Tub, 1 Stands Alone,” by Annette Lewis, which draws from fairy tales to represent aspects of children’s lives.

And host company Full Radius Dance will perform a new work.

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