City News: Fringe Fest 2013 Reviews: “Waiting at the Crossroads Cafe,” “Anomaly” 9-25-13
by Eric Rezsnyak
“Anomaly” at Rochester Fringe
“Anomaly” by BIODANCE, Sound ExChange and M.W. Harris was performed at the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium on Sunday, September 22, 2013.
I am going to attempt — and fail — to adequately describe the merits of the astonishing “Anomaly.” This collaboration between local performance troupe BIODANCE, local musical group Sound ExChange, and RIT professor and multimedia artist W. Michelle Harris was the most amazing piece I’ve seen thus far at Fringe 2013. It was so lovely to behold that I found myself dreading its inevitable conclusion.
The performance is staged at the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium, and the venue itself is a critical component of the work. The show actually began in the lobby, as a small grouping of futuristically dressed dancers performed strong, aggressive, yet elegant movements choreographed by Eran Hanlon. It then moved into the Planetarium’s dome theater for the bulk of the show, featuring a larger troupe dancing choreography by BIODANCE Artistic Director Missy Pfohl Smith.
“Anomaly,” to me, was a brilliant merging of modern dance, classical music, and eye-popping visuals. Every element of this show reflected a great deal of thought and artistry. I’m hesitant to make assumptions about the intent behind modern dance, but in the five almost seamless pieces I picked up recurring themes about reaching for the heavens, flight, migration, community, and the cosmos — all of which made perfect sense given the surroundings. I found myself reflecting on the concept that life on this planet, in a cosmic sense, is itself an anomaly. A beautiful, terrifying, delicate anomaly.
The dancing was consistently graceful and inventive. I was repeatedly surprised, delighted, and inspired. The music by Sound ExChange — the live string quartet performed works by John Cage and Arvo Part — was the perfect accompaniment to the slow, sweeping movements. Finally, the projections by Harris were almost impossibly cool, varying from fascinating bisecting color grids to kaleidoscopic backdrops that, when combined with a handful of helium balloons and their shadows, made for a hypnotic and enveloping visual element.
“Anomaly” is a true sensorial experience. If anything, the challenge comes in taking all of the performance aspects at once, especially the dancing given the unique layout of the Planetarium. But for 60 minutes I found myself enraptured in a brilliantly crafted world of beauty, melody, and calmness. Exceptional work by everyone involved in this very special show.
(“Anomaly” also plays Friday, September 27, and Saturday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium. Tickets cost $10.)
For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Media Contact: Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, [email protected], @PR4Arts
Fringe Info: rochesterfringe.com[rochesterfringe.com], www.facebook.com/RochesterFringeFestival[facebook.com], @RochesterFringe[twitter.com]
MORE THAN 50,000 ATTEND 2013 FRINGE
First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival Attendance Grows by More than 50% in Year Two
Rochester, NY – Organizers of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival (September 19-28) announced today that 2013 attendance topped 50,000, a year-over-year increase of more than 50 percent. Approximately 33,000 attended the festival during its 2012 inaugural year.
“We are so happy that our hard work paid off, and that people responded to our extending the festival from five to 10 days this year,” says Fringe Producer Erica Fee. “I’m very grateful to our shows, venues, sponsors, board, staff and volunteers – none of this could happen without them!”
The non-profit organization, run by a board of directors made up of representatives from local arts and cultural institutions, universities and businesses, is dependent upon ticket sales, registration fees, grants, gifts and sponsorships. Once again, title sponsor, First Niagara, couldn’t be happier.
“We are proud to be part of such an inspiring event that so perfectly reflects Rochester’s creative spirit,” says Paul Hurley, Vice President, First Niagara Private Client Services. “Thank you to all who participated in the second annual First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, an event that is infusing the energy, excitement and creativity essential to our City’s revitalization and growth.”
Internationally-renowned vertical dance group BANDALOOP drew an estimated 13,000 people to Friday on the Fringe on September 20th. Musical groups Bishop Charlie Wells and the Original Voices of Clouds and Sisters of Murphy put the newly-renovated Manhattan Square Park Amphitheatre to excellent use, while food trucks, street performers and Fringe show highlights entertained the ever-expanding audience. As they did last year, BANDALOOP wowed the crowd with its spectacular 20-minute performance on the side of the 21-story One HSBC Plaza.
The Fringe’s world-premiere Cirque du Fringe in the Magic Crystal Spiegeltent sold out its entire run of 13 performances, and Silent Disco’s three shows, also in the Spiegeltent, were hugely popular as well. Headliners Marc Maron and Dave Barry each drew well in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, and a closed-off Gibbs Street was packed for the final Fringe weekend. With live bands both evenings (including Prime Time Funk, Thunder Body and The Albrights) on the Gibbs Street Main Stage – as well as weeknight events like Pedestrian Drive-In and TriviaCity in the laid-back but popular Spiegelgarden – One Fringe Place (corner of Gibbs and Main Streets) was truly the Fringe hub.
The free shows hosted by indoor venues, including The Little’s Theatre 1 and Café (RIT) , the UR Arts Bus, Java’s Café, Writers & Books, Eastman’s Cominsky Promenade, Acanthus Café and The TheatreROCS Stage at Xerox Auditorium, drew thousands. The rest of the approximately 240 ticketed Fringe performances – which were submitted to and chosen by the remaining 25 venues themselves – outdrew last years’ as well. Many performances, including those by Arild Remmereit/Rochester Chamber Orchestra and PUSH Physical Theatre (Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall), Garth Fagan Dance (GFD Studio), The 24-Hour Plays and How to Survive Crack Addiction (Writers & Books), A Capella Hour (RAPA’s East End Theatre), Mounafanyi (MuCCC), MY PLASTIC SUN and Fringe Festival A Capella Jam (Bernunzio Uptown Music), sold out.
“The 2013 Fringe Festival was a roaring success,” says Bernunzio Uptown Music co-owner, Julie Schnepf. “Our venue was transformed each evening from music store to concert hall. As the week progressed, the audiences grew larger, with several shows completely sold out. Here’s to Fringe 2014!”
Writers & Books PR Associate Chris Fanning agrees: “Once again, Fringe blew us away. We had more sold-out shows this year, and a personal highlight for me was how many tours I gave – it’s refreshing to be a part of a festival that draws new faces to your organization. Across the board we had great feedback.”
The festival is looking into conducting an economic impact study, but at least one local business saw a definite uptick in sales over last year’s Fringe.
“It was a home run,” says Java’s Café owner Mike Calabrese. “We saw a lot of new customers, great people, and no problems – can’t wait for next year!”
Beyond the numbers, though, many participants enjoyed artistic success, often reflected in reviews as well as audience appreciation. Anomaly: BIODANCE, Sound ExChange and M.W. Harris, for example, garnered glowing critiques as well as selling out several shows at the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium.
“Anomaly proved to be an exceptional collaboration,” comments Kate Bennett, president of the Rochester Museum & Science Center. “We were delighted with the imaginative use of the Planetarium, incorporating the use of the four-story dome and magnificent night sky. Projected images, floating balloons and expressive dancers created shadows that coincided with imagery, light and astounding music.”
“I am so humbled and appreciative of all the attention the show received and all of the people who came out to support it,” posted BIODANCE Artistic Director Missy Pfohl Smith on Facebook. “I head to NYC tomorrow and hope to meet the Director of the Hayden Planetarium!”
The 2012 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival: the debut, multi-arts festival ran from Wednesday, September 19 through Sunday, September 23 in downtown Rochester, NY, drawing more than 33,000 people over five days, which placed it in the Top Five of approximately 50 U.S. fringe festivals for attendance.
The 2013 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival ran from Thursday, September 19 through Saturday, September 28, with approximately 360 shows in 28 venues in downtown Rochester.
Rochester Fringe Festival is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that exists as a means to connect venues, performers, artists, educational institutions and the audience. It was pioneered by several of Rochester’s esteemed cultural institutions, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as up-and-coming groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine. The Board of Directors also includes representatives from the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Boylan Code LLC, Center for Youth, the Eastman School of Music and Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co. LLP.
2013 sponsors include: First Niagara, University of Rochester, RIT, The Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation, Boylan Code, The Rochester Area Community Foundation, The Farash Foundation, The City of Rochester, The Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation, SUNY Geneseo, East Avenue Inn & Suites, Wegmans, The DiMarco Group, Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust the Waldron Rise Foundation, The Mary Mulligan Trust, 10NBC, City Newspaper, Broccolo Lawn & Tree Care, McCarthy Tents & Events, City Blue, The Democrat & Chronicle Media Group, The College at Brockport, Monroe Community College, Nazareth College, Midtown Athletic Club, Jennifer Jones Jewelry, Benderson Development, IEC Electronics, Monroe County, Nocon & Associates, Rural Metro, Hamilton AV, Dawn & Jacques Lipson, the Rubens Family Foundation, the Kozel Family Foundation, Kids Out & About, Foodlink, Benderson, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation, City Blue, mü created by LiDestri Spirits, House of Guitars, WXXI, Genesee Beer, Dundee, Newcastle, Heineken, and other philanthropic gifts.
About First Niagara: Through its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A. is a multi-state, community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, approximately $37 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.firstniagara.com[firstniagara.com].
Media please note: high-resolution images of this year’s Fringe are available on request, and interviews can be arranged.