During their summer break, some Atlanta Ballet dancers trade the theater for the outdoors, performing in places like the BeltLine, a loop of trails and historic railroad tracks around the city. It's all part of Wabi Sabi, the dancer-led group which makes public spaces a backdrop for dance. Pointe spoke with company dancer Kiara Felder about this grassroots project with contemporary flair.
What got you involved in Wabi Sabi?
I've been a "Wabier" since 2013. It has always been a no-brainer for me: I get to know my city a little better, have the opportunity to dance in a different setting, and it's a good way to stay in shape and earn some money during the summer layoff.
Where are you dancing this weekend?
We're performing along the BeltLine and on the rooftop of Ponce City Market, which looks out over the Atlanta skyline. I'm in a group piece, and a duet with Alessa Rogers that was originally created for two men. I'm really excited to see how our nuances will affect the witty and precise tone established by the original cast.
What's it like having your patrons so close?
It's like plucking the dancers from the stage and putting them in the midst of the audience, or rather the audience is in the midst of the dancers! My first time dancing in the botanical gardens, it was exciting to see people who maybe didn't know there was a performance happening stop and engage. You could see art and dance sparking curiosity.
How has Wabi Sabi stretched you as a dancer?
I have to be ready to adapt to everything that is thrown at me--from steps to different performance environments. The ground might be sloped, the space might be smaller, and there might not be an "offstage." But I feel more fearless when I return to Atlanta Ballet's regular season.
Wabi Sabi will perform at free and ticketed events throughout Atlanta on August 6 and 21.