SLIDESHOW: Two dancers "steel themselves against the unstable ebbs and swells of absence" in Part and Parcel’s (choreographer Allie Hankins) new piece "By Guess & By God." Photos courtesy Tim Summers.

“It’s the place where you can see tomorrow’s innovators today.” That’s how On the Boards’ Jessica Massart describes the 28th annual NW New Works Festival. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s also kind of true: The fest has previously featured cutting-edge organizations and artists like Catherine Cabeen, tEEth, Waxie Moon, and Implied Violence.

“It really serves as a laboratory for Northwest artists and an opportunity for artists to incubate a new idea or foster a sense of original work,” Massart explains.

This year, the two-weekend event will showcase 16 experimental performance pieces from local artists (the word local is used loosely: performers hail from Oregon, Washington, and Canada), in mediums ranging from dance and theater to puppetry and film.

So, when you hear the words “experimental art,” do you imagine a naked lady performing interpretive dance to a soundtrack of atonal flute music? If so, you may wonder what these audiences are getting themselves into.

“The artists are definitely playing with the boundaries of their genres,” Massart admits. “But they’re actually doing this to communicate more clearly to the audience what their ideas are. Audiences can expect to see pieces that are thought-provoking, conversation-starting and fun, in addition to experimental.”

Click through the slideshow above to get acquainted with a few of the groups performing in the festival. (Warning: the last photo is not for sensitive eyes.)

The NW New Works Festival is on Friday through June 19 at On the Boards.