BIODANCE, a well-established, local contemporary group led by Missy Pfohl Smith, has two distinctly different shows in the festival. "Breakdown: Dance/Sound" is an experimental new work performed to the orchestral music of Sound ExChange. The piece uses 50 musicians and 10 dancers, and promotes audience interaction. BIODANCE's other work, "Love at First Waltz," highlights Smith's effecting choreography set to the waltzes of Brahms, as well as sneak peeks of soon-to-be-premiered jazz dance and swing pieces. ("Breakdown" takes place Saturday 9/22 4-5 p.m. at Christ Church. Tickets cost $6-$10.)
It's not often that dance and science mesh this closely. "AstroDance" is an astrophysics/dance project funded by National Science Foundation and conceived and choreographed by RIT faculty Thomas Warfield that represents concepts of gravitational physics interpreted through dance. Phew! Heavy. The enterprise is an RIT collaboration involving the National Institute for the Deaf, the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, and the College of Science. (Saturday 9/22 6 p.m. at Little Theatre 1. Admission is free.)
PUSH Physical Theatre is technically astride the fence between dance and theater, but I am always eager to include them under the umbrella of dance. I find their work riveting in its feats of physical prowess as well as insightful and deeply humorous in content. My 9-year-old alternates between gasping and chuckling appreciatively when attending their performances. Husband-and-wife team Darren and Heather Stevenson founded the company in Rochester in 2000 out of a desire to "push" the boundaries of traditional theater. During Fringe, the company will perform two new pieces: "The Evolution of Aviation" and "The Natural World." Take the kids.(Friday 9/21 6-7 p.m. and Saturday 9/22 10:30-11:30 p.m. at TheatreROCS at Xerox Auditorium. Tickets cost $15.)
Two solo dance performances immediately caught my eye on the Fringe schedule. I recommend both of them. Heather Roffe, an alumni of Garth Fagan Dance, a current member of Futurpointe Dance, and one of the most talented, consistent and professional dancers in Rochester today, performs "Spection -- Intro/Retro." The show features selections from her more recent choreography set to music ranging from Aretha Franklin to tango (Roffe has taught tango for years) to Meredith Monk. (Saturday 9/22 4:30-5:30 p.m., Sunday 9/23 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Geva Theatre Nextstage. Tickets cost $15.)
Relatively new to the Rochester Dance scene is Mariah Maloney Dance. Maloney is a former member of the renowned Trisha Brown Dance Company. This summer her company performed her choreography at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. During Fringe, she will appear in a solo set to traditional Irish music. Her company will present a 14-member ensemble piece she created inspired by Baroque choral compositions and an edgy female sextet danced to music ranging from Brazilian Girls to Carl Orff. (Saturday 9/22 1-2 p.m. at George Eastman House Terrace Garden. Free admission.)
Finally, Day of Dance offers an opportunity to see a number of different groups perform on two separate days. The first day brings Next Best Thing, Kristi Faulkner Dance, I am Cooper, and Geomantics Dance Theater (led by Richard Haisma, this company is worth catching). On the second day, enjoy the concert dance of Juxtapose, the tap of Cheryl Johnson (also see her in the highly entertaining Bill Evans and Company: Modern Dance, Modern Tango and Contemporary Dance performances) and the percussive dance of Brouhaha. And I'm curious about Areadance from New York City, premiering Britney Falcon's newest modern dance work. (Saturday 9/22 12:15-3:15 p.m., Sunday 9/23 noon-3 p.m. at RAPA's East End Theatre. Suggested donation $5.)
With more than 500 performances taking place Thursday, September 15, through Saturday, September 24, there's a lot to take in. We'll help you get started.
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