Monthly Archives: March 2016

BIODANCE at University of Southern Mississippi

BIODANCE heads to University of Southern Mississippi Feb. 9-12, 2016, to teach and perform two duets, “Absent Presence” from 2004, and “Amidst Crossed Wires in Parallel Paths” from 2015. Courtney World and Missy Pfohl Smith will perform these and other works together for this tour, as well as teaching four master classes. (Photos of Courtney and Missy in “Absent Presence” by Ralph A. Thompson)

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.57.35 PM

Absent Presence  Photo by Ralph A. Thomspon

Absent Presence
Photo by Ralph A. Thomspon



BIODANCE receives Decentralization Grant 2016

BIODANCE receives maximum award from Decentralization Community Arts Program in 2016 to continue its BIO/DANCE & Social Justice Series and its partnership with Community Place of Greater Rochester’s Senior Center! Thank you NYSCA, Governor Cuomo and Livingston Arts, a member supported organization, for supporting BIO/DANCE & Social Justice again!  We are honored to continue this work in our community.

GVArts logos

BIODANCE performs in Auburn, NY, April 2, 2016

“BUILDING A DANCE COMMUNITY!” Join us Saturday April 2nd for a day of dance. BIODANCE is featured in the Choreographer’s Showcase at 7:30pm at Cayuga Community College 197 Franklin St, Auburn, New York 13021.
About Event: We are so thrilled and excited to present the “Artist’s Dance Experience”. An experience for serious dancers…and choreographers to showcase their works. This event will draw a wide range of students and choreographers for across New York State. The day includes: Master Classes given by presenting dance studios and a dance concert performance in the evening. For more information please contact us 315-730-6056. Tickets are available for 7:30pm show $12 General Admission $10 Seniors & Students. Master Classes are open to public $40 (Observation pass available $20 )

Smith nominated for City News Rochester 10!

BIODANCE Artistic Director Missy Pfohl Smith was nominated and featured for City News Rochester 10: Rochesterians Doing Great Things Behind the Scenes in December 2015.

Click here for news article.

Text excerpt copy from City News, Dec. 30, 2015:

DANCE: Missy Pfohl Smith

Missy Pfohl Smith, the artistic director of the local modern dance company BIODANCE, has a unique talent for creating socially-conscious works — works that reflect on our interactions (or lack of) with others. Her dance pieces are challenging and thought-provoking, nudging audiences toward self-reflection.

Over the last year, she and her company have presented Pfohl Smith’s “Social Justice Series,” a body of work that addresses injustices in today’s society and comments on inequalities. The 10-member dance company has performed in libraries, senior centers, and other community venues, particularly reaching out to seniors to help them tell their stories.

A good example of what she is accomplishing with this series was “Compartmented,” a site-specific, multimedia, pop-up event co-curated by Pfohl Smith and Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge, assistant professor of art and lens-based media at the University of Rochester. The event took place in early December in the former Sunday school space located in the back of what is now the Lyric Theatre on East Avenue. The pop-up was created specifically to be performed in this unique space (the former home of First Church of Christ, Scientist) which has rounded walls separated into 20 tiny reading rooms on two levels.

This installation piece featured the work of 17 artists and included video sculpture, performance art and storytelling along with dance. Artists were isolated in the reading rooms; their performances reflecting their inner musings. Senior citizens from Community Place — the downtown Rochester center where Pfohl Smith offers movement classes and leads discussion circles for the occupants — appeared in the show, literally telling their own stories while BIODANCE interpreted the tales through movement.

“Our elders truly have so much wisdom to share,” Pfohl Smith says, “but we rarely pay attention to them in our culture. I wanted to give them an opportunity to be seen and listened to.”

Part of the work Pfohl Smith is doing with BIODANCE has to do with intimacy, she says. “I think we’re losing understanding of human to human intimacy. We’re exploring that.”

At 45, Pfohl Smith has had her own company for nearly 10 years. She originally formed BIODANCE in 2002 in New York City where she spent more than a decade dancing and traveling with Randy James Dance Works, a company whose work incorporates elements of both modern dance and ballet. After relocating to Rochester, Pfohl Smith re-established BIODANCE by 2006.

“I’m interested in contact improvisation,” she says. “Improv is big in my creative process. I’m working not just with myself but with eight other artists. What is created comes not just from my body but from their bodies, too. People I work with have been with me from the beginning. You really understand each other’s language.”

Last fall, BIODANCE appeared at the Rochester Fringe Festival’s Friday on the Fringe event with Grounded Aerial in front of 13,000 audience members. While the modern dance and aerial arts company scaled the side of the One HSBC Plaza building downtown, BIODANCE performed atop the “Tribute to Man” sculpture in Manhattan Square.

That wasn’t the first major project for BIODANCE at the Fringe. In 2013, the company presented “Anomaly,” a site-specific work performed in the four-story dome of the Strasenburgh Planetarium in collaboration with Sound ExChange and W. Michelle Harris, a media artist and associate professor of Interactive Games and Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

BIODANCE has also appeared in many festivals and locales outside of Rochester: The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard; The Heidelberg New Music and Dance Festival in Tiffin, Ohio; University Settlement in New York City; and Danspace at St. Mark’s Church in New York as part of the Remember Project. They have also performed at many colleges and universities.

Pfohl Smith started dancing as a 3-year-old in Buffalo, where she grew up, but entered her freshman year at SUNY Geneseo on a pre-med tract. Once she switched to Brockport the following year she changed course.

“I realized that dance was such a way bigger field than I had thought, and I decided to major in it. At first I thought maybe dance therapy, but I was performing and doing well so I decided that dance was my path.”

When she moved back to Rochester, Pfohl Smith started teaching at the college level, and has held classes at Brockport, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and The University of Rochester — where she is now the director of the Program of Dance and Movement.

By Casey Carlsen



BIODANCE at UR Diversity Conference

BIODANCE performed as plenary guest artists at University of Rochester’s “Creative Innovation: Building Synergy through the Arts, Sciences and Diversity” on November 13, 2015.  Sharing Smith’s choreography from the BIO/DANCE & Social Justice series, the company performed In/Difference at the Memorial Art Gallery at the Creative Innovation Performance and Reception.  Smith also served on a panel:  INVESTIGATE Breakout Session that examined methods for trans-disciplinary research and its connection to diversity with a panel of scholars led by AnnMarie White, EdD.


Compartmented at Lyric Theatre Dec. 4-5, 2015



Multimedia site-specific art happenings

Co-curated by Missy Pfohl Smith and Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge

At ‘The Sunday School’

Rochester Lyric Opera

440 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607

December 4 & 5, 2015, 6–9pm, $5 at the door

For images and souvenirs from the show, visit Compartmented’s Website:


Seventeen artists will occupy ‘The Sunday School’ located in the back of the Lyric Opera Theatre for two evenings of site-specific installations and performances in December. The audience will be invited to wander through a unique curiosity cabinet and explore the architectural structure transformed by the artists’ interventions. Independent artists and faculty from University of Rochester, RIT, Alfred University, Alfred State College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges were invited by the organizers/curators to imagine and present work in response to this fascinating space.

Missy Pfohl Smith happened upon the space when considering venues for The Fringe, and immediately thought it would make for fascinating site-specific art and performance. Smith contacted colleague Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge, suspecting she too would be inspired by the space. Smith says, “I was thrilled when Sue Cotroneo and Lyric Opera were willing to let us play in this curious space. Lyric Opera’s plans to renovate the space into a cabaret hall were scheduled to begin in January – I felt an urgency to give these fascinating vestiges from the former Christian Scientist Church one last life through art, dance and media.” Luckily, Evelyne wholeheartedly agreed, and the two invited multi-disciplinary artists from the region to explore and create in and for the space. Leblanc-Roberge writes, “One could see Bentham’s Panopticon, strange biblical reading rooms, a compartmented symmetrical cabaret, fascinating surfaces and corners, rounded walls, hypnotic wallpaper, one could hear the sound of a lost memory, imagine a dress as big as a room, a play of differences and repetitions, the smell and texture of a worn red carpet, typographic wonders of ancient blue prints, a place of worship, or perhaps a surveillance device.” The curators and the dozen artists involved in the project are curious to know, “What will you find here?”

This project would not be possible without the Rochester Lyric Theater, thank you!