Dance - A guide to going Off the Edge

Rialto's dance biennial returns to Downtown

Off the Edge, the Rialto Center's dance biennial, will have its second iteration this weekend. The lineup this time around is an unusually eclectic mix of everything from hugely renowned international touring companies like Wayne McGregor's Random Dance and Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance to local favorites like the Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi and Kennesaw State University's Dance Company, with styles ranging from the tap dance of Michelle Dorrance to the outrageously athletic moves of French-Brazilian hip-hop/capoeira troupe Compagnie Käfig. We caught up with the event's young guest curator, Montreal-based artist manager Ilter Ibrahimof, to talk about his vision behind the second Off the Edge.

When planning a lineup for the festival, what did you see as your task?

I am a guest curator so I collected a lot of information first about Atlanta's dance community and the Rialto team. I did a couple trips to meet as many people as I could. The conclusion that I got was that the first festival went really well, but one thing I wanted to do was maybe broaden the type of dance, the genres of dance, that were presented. I wanted to target very young artists who are working in very different types of dance. I thought Off the Edge should essentially be a great festival for audiences who are being introduced to dance for the first time, so let's try to have accessible works. Of course, they should be challenging in a way, but also with universal appeal so that people will fall in love with dance and hopefully come and see more in Atlanta.

You said you gathered some information about Atlanta's dance community. Could you talk about your perception of the Atlanta dance scene and how that shaped your curating of the festival?

I thought there were a lot of great people doing a lot of great work. I thought it was a little segregated in a way. Because Atlanta is a big city, because it's a driving city, it's hard to have some sort of cohesive community feel because everybody is a little bit far away from one another geographically doing all sorts of different work. But then at the same time, I thought everybody had clear messages and roles within the community, which is really healthy. I thought bringing variety with Off the Edge would make things a little richer and would hopefully allow people from these different departments to come together under one roof for one festival.

Some of these companies like Random Dance and Compagnie Käfig regularly perform in the most prestigious venues all around the world. How did you go about getting them to come to Atlanta for the first time? Was there a particular interest on their part in showing work here?

Yes. We got Wayne McGregor's Random Dance, which is a huge international touring company. We got lucky with that. I had a limited budget just like Lauri [Stallings, Off the Edge's first curator and gloATL's artistic director] did two years ago. Hopefully that will grow with time and with the festival. In the meantime, one thing I did was reach out to other agents and presenters in the U.S. to see who's bringing who already. I found out that Wayne was already on tour. At that time, they were already doing a residency in North Carolina. We got lucky, and it's great for the festival. But the company also said they hadn't been to Atlanta before and this would be a great opportunity to show work with Wayne's own dancers. From the beginning, they were open to it and very enthusiastic.