For adventurous dance lovers, ADI has become the region’s leading edge of edge.
In the past couple of years, its audiences have encountered an array of experimental works by veteran, independent-minded artists, such as a work-in-progress about genocide, directed by the primo puppeteer Dan Hurlin; social commentary via life-size Barbies by Jane Comfort and Company, and the text-heavy existential eeriness of David Neumann.
These category-defying dance-theater hybrids offer an intimate emotional experience, even as they require patience and, perhaps, a certain suspension of logic to appreciate. Most of what ADI presents in its performance series is work you might not otherwise see unless you trek to the niches of Lower Manhattan.
But ADI doesn’t only draw from New York. On March 2 and 3 the little black-box theater presents the San Francisco-based Joe Goode Performance Group in “The Rambler,” a look at the American love affair with loners that Goode describes as “Clint Eastwood meets Siddhartha.”
What’s interesting about ADI is not so much the fact that it exists in the suburbs. Busy venues such as Strathmore and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center have been drawing dance audiences beyond the Beltway for years. What’s interesting is that ADI, with its commitment to experimental dance, exists at all.
“It’s a miracle,” says Goode, whose 30-year career of moving, singing and storytelling on the margins of the dance world has depended on rough-around-the-edges theaters like this one. Theaters that support experimental performers are “getting to be more and more rare,” he says, because they have to find a way to survive without the kind of big donors with a taste for galas that high-end venues can attract and cultivate.
What sets ADI apart from other dance presenters — not just in the suburbs, but also anywhere in the region — is that it deliberately sidesteps the mainstream, while being highly selective about the fringes. Here in this province of Hair Cutterys and minivans, across the parking lot from the Center for Prostate Disease Research, you will find nothing safe. ADI presents neither big-name attractions — no Mark Morris Dance Group or Paul Taylor Dance Company — nor smaller audience-friendly groups such as Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.
ADI Executive Director Adrienne Willis says she decided to stake her success on audience intelligence. Even if her potential market didn’t know much about the groups she brought in — or didn’t know much about dance at all — she was sure that once she lured them in, ticket buyers would learn to love her picks just as much as she does.