The long anticipated modern dance event, Off the EDGE, took over downtown Atlanta this weekend, January 27th– 28th, 2012The main stage performances took place at the Rialto. But as a pre-show treat at 6pm, a sister series of free site specific performances played out in Woodruff ParkEDGE/Public, curated by Atlanta-based cultural critic Paul Boshears, provided a vehicle for local artists to participate in this laboratory of cutting edge movement exploration.

Friday night, we arrived early and were able to walk 2 blocks to the park.  As we approached, a dancer in peach, with a lace collar, was using a short wall  as a bench, to push and lunge from and eventually lay on in the surrounding vegetation.  Movement in the corner of my eye switched my focus to dancers across the street. Another soloist was carving through the space.  Nearby, a quartet, two of which were handi-able dancers in wheel chairs, amazingly made their way on and off a platform.  They drew the audience in with their somber yet electric mood and kept the viewers on the “Edge” as dancers of all abilities rolled backwards, carried and threw themselves at each other.  Off to the right by the fountain, an entire company was militantly stomping and jumping in front of a movie screen.

The air was cold, but the creative energy surrounding the park kept the audience moving and engaged.  Being a modern dance baby myself, I felt at home and had to resist the urge to interact with the dancer in peach.  In retrospect, I probably should have joined in.

The performances underway were from Full Radius Dance presenting the theme of ‘surviving survival’, SCAD artist Bernard L. Jackson’s group piece “Water Wall Tango” and solos from Staibdance.  This elite list of Atlanta performers also includes SCAD Atlanta professor Casey Lynch, who built a time-based sculpture in collaboration with the occupants of the Park.  There are new works by LIFT, Out of Hand Theater, and Wabi Sabi.  The Haverty Object Group’s prepared a storefront creation called “Ritual Objects”.  Georgia Tech. School of Architecture Professor, Judy O’Buck Gordon, fashioned a scale-bending structure.

Day 2 was a little more harrowing.  Traffic was snail-like and to my great disappointment I missed all the wonderful work being presented in Woodruff Park.  As Off the EDGE becomes more established, I would like to see the work being offered more than once.  Perhaps the presentations can span four days or over a two weekend period.  So if unpredictable life occurs, there are other opportunities for a dance junkie, like myself, to see all the work.  Plus, the free events are simply wonderful for children, but the four hours of the park and the main stage performances is just too much.

EDGE/Pubic is a good idea and what I experienced was wonderful.  Knowing what I know now, I will plan more strategically next year.  Just keep the art coming.