ROC the Day for BIODANCE 11/28/17

ROC_banner_fb_2017On November 28, please consider ROCing the day for BIODANCE.

Make an online TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation at: (proceeds go directly to BIODANCE without a service charge)
or at: as part of a community-wide day of giving sponsored by the United Way.

All of us at BIODANCE truly appreciate your support. We would not be able to continue our work without it. 2018 is a big year for us as we celebrate our 12th Anniversary with “12 for 12” – 12 performances in the community celebrating 12 years of BIODANCE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR BELIEF IN OUR WORK!!

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

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



Open Call for Artists – Dance and Social Justice Series

As part of its upcoming Dance & Social Justice Series, Rochester-based modern dance company BIODANCE is now accepting dance-related proposals from artists of multiple disciplines. This is an opportunity to develop new socially-conscious work and to collaborate with BIODANCE.

Come to Corfu, Greece, this summer! June 28-July 12, 2014

Come to Corfu, “the brilliant little speck of an island…with waters like the heartbeat of the world.”

Register now for LivingDance~LivingMusic™ in Corfu, Greece with Danielle L, Fraenkel, Ph.D., BC-DMT, NCC, CGP, LCAT, LMHC and Jeffrey D. Mehr, MA and for Creative Expression Through Choreography in Corfu, Greece with Missy Pfohl Smith, MFA. June 28, 2014 – July 12, 2014. Alternate Route to Certification in DMT credit, continuing education hours for R-DMTs, BC-DMTs, NCCs and other helping professionals.  Six undergraduate credits available through University of Rochester and non-credit options also available.

Create expressive, site-specific dances, participate in Greek cultural dancing, connect with an international community of artists, dancers and helping professionals!

Early bird rates will save you up to $500 if you sign up with your deposit by 12/30/14.

For more information, visit

Congratulations to our friends at Sound ExChange!

We are thrilled to share that our friends and collaborators at Sound ExChange has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Farash Foundation for their Interactive Classical Visions Project!  A huge congratulations to Emily, Drew and all at Sound ExChange!  And huge Kudos to the Farash Foundation for recognizing excellence and supporting innovation in the arts!!

Read the press release here:

Post-Fringe Festival Press for Anomaly!

City News: Fringe Fest 2013 Reviews: “Waiting at the Crossroads Cafe,” “Anomaly” 9-25-13

by Eric Rezsnyak

Photo by City News/Matt DeTurck

“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.

Photo by City News/Matt DeTurck

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[]


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 Discos 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 SpiegelgardenOne 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[].

Media please note: high-resolution images of this year’s Fringe are available on request, and interviews can be arranged.