Monthly Archives: September 2018

Source of Light – VSW residency/First Friday Dec. 7

BIODANCE, fivebyfive and video artist Josh Thorson receive month-long artist residency at Visual Studies Workshop!

Residency will culminate in a public performance on First Friday, December 7

As a tribute to composer, vocalist, dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Meredith Monk, the quintet fivebyfive will pair up with artist Josh Thorson and choreographer Missy Pfohl Smith/BIODANCE to explore Monk’s music visually through movement and video. This collaboration will explore three mediums in which Monk herself actively works: music, film and choreography/dance.

Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, Meredith Monk’s work thrives at weaving together new modes of perception. Accepting the Gish Prize, Monk said “art can be a healing force and a source of light during dark times.”

The project will combine music arranged for fivebyfive by the quintet’s bassist Eric Polenik, with visuals and movement that will be developed over the four-week residency, Nov. 5 – Dec. 8, 2018. The residency will culminate in a performance on December 7, 2018, and the group return to the collaborative work in future performances.

fivebyfive’s mission is to engage audiences in the collaborative spirit and creativity of modern chamber music by commissioning, arranging and performing a wide range of works for flute, clarinet, electric guitar, bass and piano.

Missy Pfohl Smith (Artistic Director/Choreographer/Performer) is the founder and Artistic Director of BIODANCE, a non-profit contemporary dance company based in Rochester, and the Director of the University of Rochester Program of Dance and Movement. Smith enjoys collaborating with multi-disciplinary artists in music, visual art, sculpture, film and technology.

Josh Thorson is an artist, writer, and designer. In 2018, he will design the projections for a production of Oklahoma! at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, and continue his collaboration on a new opera with composer Nick Hallett. Thorson is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art in the Photo School at RIT.

Source of Light by fivebyfive, Missy Pfohl Smith and Josh Thorson

“Aria” in the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival Sept. 16-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                   MEDIA CONTACTS: Missy Pfohl Smith

August 12, 2018                                                                      Email: [email protected]


BIODANCE returns to KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival

BIODANCE/Missy Pfohl Smith teams with media artist W. Michelle Harris, soprano Kearstin Piper Brown and chamber ensemble fivebyfive for an all-new show called Aria

Rochester, NY – Lush contemporary dance, opera, and media projection and live music create a new way of seeing the majestic Lyric Theater. This all-new panoply directed by Missy Pfohl Smith (Artistic Director, BIODANCE and Director, Institute for the Performing and Arts and the Program of Dance and Movement, University of Rochester), will surprise audiences with eye-popping visuals that shed new light on opera, history, and performance. From the co-creators of the sold-out shows Anomaly and Labyrinth at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, Aria will be performed by BIODANCE and media projection artist W. Michelle Harris (Associate Professor, RIT), with one of Rochester’s favorite chamber ensemble fivebyfive, and the magnificent soprano Kearstin Piper Brown!

“BIODANCE is excited, once again, to enter brand new territory, playing in a gorgeous space, the Lyric Theatre, one of Rochester’s architectural gems, in collaboration with long-time media artist partner W. Michelle Harris. We will collaborate for the first time with world renowned soprano Kearstin Piper Brown and with fivebyfive, a sublime modern chamber ensemble whose arrangements for flute, clarinet, piano, bass and electric guitar are stunning” says Missy Pfohl Smith, project director and choreographer. Dancers include Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, Zachary Frazee, Sarah Johnson, Nanako Horikawa Mandrino, Jean Michael Rubingu, Missy Pfohl Smith.

Proud to be part of Keybank Rochester Fringe Festival for the 7th year, BIODANCE has delighted audiences and sold out Fringe shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium and Geva Theatre Center’s Fielding Stage, and even performed for an estimated 13,000 audience members as part of Friday on the Fringe on top of the 177 foot “Tribute to Man” sculpture at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in collaboration with Grounded Aerial. BIODANCE is thrilled to be back with this all-new multi-disciplinary show.

This event is supported by a decentralization grant, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, administered by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts and Livingston Arts, a member-supported organization, as well as by the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation and the Gouvernet Arts Fund.


Only two shows!

Sunday, September 16 and Monday, September 17 at 8pm

Lyric Theater, 440 East Ave. Rochester, NY 14607
BIODANCE website: www.biodance.orgPhone: (585)-201-1002

BIODANCE Social Media: and Twitter: @BIODANCE1

Parking: Parking lot across Prince St. or street parking

NOTE TO MEDIA: Interviews and photos are available upon request.

BIODANCE Dancers: Alex Alletto, Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, Zachary Frazee, Sarah Johnson, Nanako Horikawa Mandrino, Jean Michael Rubingu, Missy Pfohl Smith


Choreographer, performer and collaborative artist, Missy Pfohl Smithdirects the Institute for the Performing Arts and the Program of Dance and Movement at University of Rochester and is artistic director for the contemporary repertory company, BIODANCE, based in Rochester, NY. Her work has continually sold out shows at Rochester Fringe, having been called “Gorgeous…astonishing…exceptional” and “a brilliantly crafted world of beauty, melody and calmness” by Rochester City News. She enjoys creating site specific work and recently created her second evening length show crafted for a 4 story planetarium in collaboration with a media artist, dancers, musicians and a visual artist. Missy’s viola and dance work with Bridget Kinneary is expanding to include new contemporary compositions by internationally known composers. Her choreography, performance and teaching has spanned across the US and internationally, most recently in Greece, Finland and Scotland. She is certified in Bill Evans Laban/Bartenieff-based pedagogy and also teaches choreography, dance on camera and contemporary dance and social justice. Before returning to Rochester in 2004, Smith was based in NYC for 12 years and performed and taught internationally with Randy James Dance Works and Paul Mosley, as well as apprenticing for the Erick Hawkins Dance Company.

BIODANCE is a non-profit contemporary dance company founded in 2002 that collaborates with multi-disciplinary artists and is the only true repertory company in Rochester, performing work by a roster of recognized choreographers including Missy Pfohl Smith, Bill Evans, Randy James, Ivy Baldwin, Jeanne Schickler Compisi, D. Chase Angier, Laura Regna and Courtney World. BIODANCE explores social, political and environmental issues through its works always through dance, sometimes with text, film, music, and ice cream. BIODANCE interacts with and outreaches to its community members and across the country in a variety of ways through performances, workshops, benefit concerts, interactive lecture-demonstrations and classes at venues such as Geva’s Nextstage, Hochstein Concert Hall, the Strasenburgh Planetarium, MUCCC and more. Over the past eight years, BIODANCE has been providing free dance and movement workshops to the Senior Center at Community Place of Greater Rochester. Recent collaborators have included the musical artists of Sound ExChange, digital media artist W. Michelle Harris, visual artist Allen C. Topolski, and the leading choral/orchestral ensemble Rochester Oratorio Society. BIODANCE has received Community Arts Organization Grants from the Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, New York State Council on the Arts and the NYS Legislature, from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, among other grants to create new work, to interact with its community and to produce various annual home performance seasons. City News chose BIODANCE two years in a row for a Best of Fringe Award in the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.

Michelle Harrisis a media artist and a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work mixes digital and material to engage the audience while addressing the roles of women in American culture. Her work (solo and collaborative) has been shown at such diverse venues as the ACM SIGGRAPH, World Maker Faire, and the reActor International Conference on Digital Live Art, as well as regional venues such as the Baobab Cultural Center, Community Folk Art Center, Schwienfurth Memorial, and Four Walls. She has done visuals for performances in collaboration with choreographer Juanita Suarez (ImageMovementSound festivals and the Be Here Now ensemble), Sound ExChange orchestra, and BIODANCE (Rochester Fringe  ‘17, ’16, ’15, ’13 Festivals). She received her BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a MPS in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (where she had the honor of interning with Troika Ranch). Michelle has been an ongoing collaborator with Missy Pfohl Smith at University of Rochester and BIODANCE, and plans to continue to collaborate with the company in 2018.

Kearstin Piper Brown is a soprano who recently made her San Francisco Opera debut covering the role of Dame Shirley in the world premiere of John Adams’s Girls of the Golden West. Recently, Ms. Brown performed with Rochester Oratorio Society in the Vaughan-Williams Dona Nobis Pacem and Emancipation Oratorio. She also toured Israel as Bess in Gershwin’s masterpiece, Porgy and Bess. This season Ms. Brown will return as a guest artist with the Chaliapin Festival at the Kazan Opera Theater in Russia and in the spring, she will also begin work singing the lead role in the new opera, Promised Land: An Adirondack Folk Opera. Next season brings Ms. Brown back to the West Coast for Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra and a return to San Francisco Opera to sing the Clara in Jake Heggie’s, It’s a Wonderful Life.Ms. Brown also made her debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under conductor Robert Spano in the role of the High Priestess in Aïda, and was also invited to sing concerts under the auspices of the Lebanon Symphony and Chorus, Cincinnati Opera and the Finger Lakes Opera Company. In previous seasons she was heard as Violetta with Utah Lyric Opera, Musetta with Dayton Opera, Micaëla with Arbor Opera Theater, and Clara in Porgy and Bess at the Teatro di San Carlo. She performed Euridice in Gluck’s Orpheus with Opera Memphis, and she portrayed the role of Mrs. McDowell in the world premiere of Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story by composer Adolphus Hailstork with Cincinnati Opera. She also sang with the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York as Epiphany Proudfoot in the world premiere of Mark Scearse’s Falling Angel. Ms. Brown also made her successful return to Utah Festival Opera as Bess in Porgy and Bess and Sarah in Ragtime. Ms. Brown has performed the role of Bess worldwide with Opera Kazan, Skylight Music Theatre, Dayton Opera, Virginia Opera, Utah Festival Opera and the Belarusian State Philharmonic Orchestra, Minsk. Ms. Brown starred in a gala concert Our Songs – The Music of African American Composers at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center with Opera Ebony, and the year before she was heard at Jazz at Lincoln Centerunder the auspices of the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. The versatile soprano has also sung with the American Spiritual Ensemble, toured with the 3 Mo’ Divas (sister group of the 3 Mo’ Tenors), and scored an early success as Sarah in the Light Opera Works Chicago regional premiere of Ragtime, earning her a “Best Actress in a Musical” nomination from the Black Theater Alliance in Chicago. She recently made her triumphant returned to the role in with the Utah Festival Opera. Highlights of Ms. Brown’s performances as a concert soloist include an appearance at the Palais Augarten in Vienna, a gala of American music with the Moscow City Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Lebanon Symphony, a concert with the Rochester Early Music Festival, the Festival Classique’s Opera Under the Stars concert with the Residentie Orkest in The Hague and the Edison Awards Gala 2010 with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, both of which were televised LIVE in the Netherlands, as well as concerts with the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, the Cedar Rapids Chorale and Symphony, and the Hines-Lee Opera Ensemble at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Ms. Brown is a graduate of both Spelman College and Northwestern University.

fivebyfivebegan as a project idea in 2015 to perform music by Brooklyn, NY based composer Missy Mazzoli. The flutist of the group, Laura Lentz, heard Mazzoli’s ensemble Victoire at the Detroit Institute of the Arts back in 2014 and fell in love with her music. fivebyfive evolved into the present quintet of Laura Lentz (flute), Marcy Bacon (clarinet), Sungmin Shin (electric guitar), Eric Polenik (bass) and Haeyeun Jeun (piano), and is based in Rochester, NY with an active performance and teaching schedule. Missy Mazzoli’s work Magic with Everyday Objectsfor fivebyfive’s instrumentation still remains one of the ensemble’s favorite pieces to perform. fivebyfive’s mission is to engage audiences in the collaborative spirit and creativity of modern chamber music by commissioning, arranging and performing a wide range of works for its instrumentation. Forging a variety of community partnerships and presenting interactive educational programs, fivebyfive brings music born out of today’s culture to concert halls and classrooms. In 2017 the ensemble became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. The quintet has received funding from New Music USAThe Farash Foundation and the Decentralization Grant of New York State for its programs, and actively collaborates with artists across a variety of disciplines, including poets, dancers, visual artists and musicians across the genres.