How do you get people interested in climate change? Diana Movius figured ballet could do the trick.
The D.C. policy analyst has spoken about climate change at summits around the world. But with a background in dance that includes running 14th Street studio Dance Loft on 14 and helming her own local dance company, she realized she could address the topic through alternate avenues. So, in 2015, Movius recruited several dancers and debuted one of her most ambitious works to date, “Glacier,” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. The production returns to the H Street venue Thursday to kick off the 10th annual edition of the center’s Intersections Festival.
“The goal of [‘Glacier’] is to identify and communicate what climate change feels like,” Movius says. “Through dance, you can really answer that question, because it elicits an emotional response to climate change.”
For 45 minutes, the Atlas stage will once again transform into chilling Arctic terrain for “Glacier.” As time passes, the pristine ice begins to crack and melt away, with its movements translated by dancers in Movius’ Moveius Contemporary Ballet company. Each section of the dance focuses on a different state of the ice — glaciers, floating sea ice, meltwater — as it all gets stripped away from its natural surroundings.
“The experience will be different for everyone, but my hope is that people come out of watching ‘Glacier’ with a sense of having witnessed something that is being lost, and a sense that [climate change] is something we should try to stop,” Movius says.
D.C. artist Robin Bell, known for the politically charged projections he’s beamed onto the Trump International Hotel, provides a custom backdrop of polar regions and ice for “Glacier” that acts as a mini-film to complement the dance performance. He also projects and manipulates images of the dancers on the backdrop.
Movius will present another original dance production, “Rite of Spring, Crash of Fall,” during her program Thursday at Atlas. Here, Movius shifts her focus from global warming to another hot-button topic — the financial crisis of 2008. The piece debuted in October at the Kennedy Center after receiving a grant from the venue, and uses the classic score from Igor Stravinsky’s ballet “The Rite of Spring” as a springboard to revisit the events surrounding the disaster.
“The idea is that there is always a sacrifice in ‘Rite of Spring,’ ” says Movius, referring to the original ballet’s storyline involving pagan sacrifice.
Sure, Movius’ show at the Atlas might seem like an intense evening of heavy subject matter, but she insists that her presentation will be as entertaining as it is informative.
“Both shows will be a lot of fun,” Movius says. “ ‘Glacier’ is quite poignant, but it’s enjoyable to watch, and ‘Rite of Spring’ does involve a lot of humor.”
Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE; Thu., 8 p.m., $35.
All of the arts come together at Intersections
For nearly two weeks, Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Intersections Festival will be abuzz with performances of all types — music, dance, theater and more — for the event’s 10th anniversary. Here’s just a sampling of the shows on the schedule for the festival, which begins Thursday and runs through March 3.
‘Unveiling the Mystery of Musical Improvisation’
Musical improvisation can seem too daunting for non-musicians to fully understand. But Ney Mello and Elizabeth Louie want to demystify the art with their 75-minute guitar-and-piano performance (Fri., 8 p.m., $20). The audience will be just as integral to the show as the musicians, as Mello and Louie will improvise their performance with the crowd’s assistance.
‘Duke Ellington’s Neighborhood’
Legendary musician and local hero Duke Ellington inspired countless artists around the world. In “Duke Ellington’s Neighborhood” (March 2, 11:30 a.m., $15), a lively cast of singers and a jazz trio will trace Ellington’s storied career in a 60-minute performance. The production promises to be an interactive — and educational — show for kids, but enjoyable for adults too.
Griot Girls Ensemble
Griot Girls began as a mentoring program for African-American girls in the area who are interested in musical theater. Eventually, the group spawned a hip-hop ensemble that incorporates acting, rap, poetry and dance in its act while traveling to venues all around town. The group is coming to the festival to present an hourlong hip-hop theater piece (March 2, 4:30 p.m., $15).