Frameless Symposium at Rochester Institute of Technology

BIODANCE presented a concert version of The Fragile Corridor as part of RIT’s Frameless Symposium as the culminating event on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019 at the Magic Studios at 6:30pm. Featuring projected imagery by W. Michelle Harris, choreography and direction by Missy Pfohl Smith, this work was a reprise from the sold-out concerts with Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble during the Rochester Fringe Festival 2019. Performers included Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, Hettie Barnhill, Zach Frazee, W, Michell Harris, Sarah Johnson, Natalia Lisina, Julie Schlafer Rossette, Jean Michael Rubingu and Missy Pfohl Smith.

Rehearsal of The Fragile Corridor reprise at RIT

“Something Olde”, Cordancia and BIODANCE, Nov 10th, 2:30pm

Join us as we perform with Rochester’s own Cordancia Chamber Orchestra, celebrating their 10-year anniversary. BIODANCE will be featured in Cordancia’s performance of Milhaud’s “La Création du Monde.” The program also features composer anniversaries and includes “Dreams” by George Antheil, “The Sleepers” by David Liptak with soprano soloist Tyler Cassidy-Heacock, and “Champagne Galop” by H. C. Lumbye. This performance took place at the Memorial Art Gallery Ballroom, with a second performance at Hochstein Recital Hall.

Tickets $20 ($15 student/senior) available online and at the door

Arts in Mind Symposium, Hatch Hall, Nov 3rd, 12p-5p

In collaboration with the Institute for the Performing Arts, the Institute for Music Leadership, and the Program of Dance and Movement, The Arts in Mind Project will host a symposium on “Humpback Whales and Their Extraordinary Mystery of Song,” on November 3, from noon to 5 p.m. at Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music. The symposium will explore ecology and threats to our environment, social behavior to art images, and behavior of humpbacks and their musical communications. Speakers include National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklin and marine biologist Jim Darling. There will be a performance of the piece “Unsoftly, to the Night” composed by Matt Curlee at the Eastman School of Music, and accompanied performances from BIODANCE and faculty and students from the Program of Dance and Movement. Event is free with light reception to follow. For more information, click here!

“Around the Town” Concert Series, July 30th, 6pm

Special free performance coming up next Tuesday, July 30 at 6pm! Join BIODANCE and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Partnering with the City of Rochester in collaboration with the Joseph Avenue Arts and Cultural Alliance. This outdoor concert boasts the highest attendance of any of the seven Around the Town concerts! Audiences will delight in this electrifying performance of multiple percussionists and marimbas on stage, played by some of the world’s leading musicians from our local award-winning orchestra, followed by the astonishing dancers of BIODANCE, who will share recent choreography and a sneak peek into their upcoming Fringe show at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, “The Fragile Corridor!” The performance will take place at the corner of Joseph and Clifford Avenues. Free outdoor picnic to follow. 

the fragile corridor – Rochester Fringe 9/19-21, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                          

June 17, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Missy Pfohl Smith

 Email:[email protected]

Phone: 585-201-1002

BIODANCE/Missy Pfohl Smith, W. Michelle Harris and Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble Premiere All-New Show 

“The Fragile Corridor” at Rochester Museum and Science Center’s 

Strasenburgh Planetarium

ROCHESTER, NY— Choreographer Missy Pfohl Smith, director of BIODANCE, and media artist W. Michelle Harris return to the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s newly renovated Strasenburgh Planetarium for an all new work, “The Fragile Corridor,” created for the 2019 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. The same artistic collaboration who produced the sold-out phenomenons “Anomaly” and “Labyrinth” presented at the Planetarium as part of the Fringe Festival in 2013, 2016 and 2017, will be joined by one of the world’s leading percussion soloists and director of the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, Michael Burritt.  The “Fragile Corridor” is not your typical dance or music concert, nor is it your typical visit to the planetarium, it is something entirely new, imaginative, and immersive. 

“Missy and Michelle consider the Planetarium environment with fresh eyes and ears and create work that makes the Star Theater’s unique capabilities an integral part of the artistic product,” says Steve Fentress, Planetarium Director at RMSC. “An innovative and highly professional production like this keeps Rochester’s Planetarium on the cutting edge. We are proud to be a part of this new creation.”

Missy Pfohl Smith, who also directs the University of Rochester’s Institute for the Performing Arts and Program of Dance and Movement, W. Michelle Harris, an Associate Professor of Interactive Games and Media at Rochester Institute for Technology, are no strangers to large scale multi-media collaborations in The Fringe. Their 2018 Fringe premiere was called “an absolute masterpiece” by Rochester City News. With live music from Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, dance by the performers of BIODANCE and technology from both Harris and the new capabilities of the Star Theater at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, “The Fragile Corridor” will mesmerize, energize and delight audiences.  

There will be only four performances with limited seating of “The Fragile Corridor,” Thursday, September 19 through Saturday, September 21 at 6:30pm, and Saturday, September 21 at 3pm. Tickets are $18, available at

BIODANCE website:, Phone: (585)-201-1002

BIODANCE Social Media: and Twitter: @BIODANCE1

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

BIODANCEis a Rochester-based repertory dance company under the direction of Missy Pfohl Smith, who also directs the University of Rochester Institute for the Performing Arts and the Program of Dance and Movement. BIODANCE collaborates with multi-disciplinary artists, such as W. Michelle Harris, an Associate Professor in Interactive Games and Media at RIT. BIODANCE made their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2017 to sold out houses, and has shared its work nationally and internationally. Visit and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram.

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 Institute for the Performing Arts and the Program of Dance and Movement.  Smith enjoys collaborating with multi-disciplinary artists in music, visual art, sculpture, film and technology. She was selected for City News’ “The Rochester 10: Rochesterians doing great things behind the scenes” in 2015. BIODANCE’s Anomaly, in collaboration with Sound ExChange and media artist W. Michelle Harris at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, won a 2013 Best of Fringe Festival award for Best Use of Venue and enjoyed anothersold-out run in 2016. To follow up, Smith and Harris co-conceived a new work for the Planetarium in 2017 titled Labyrinth, which sold out 4 shows and nearly the fifth, playing to over 1000 audience members and critical acclaim. Based in NYC for 12 years, Smith performed and toured with Randy James Dance Works as a founding company member from 1993-2003, with Paul Mosley from 1997-2004, and with Philippa Kaye Company. She also worked as an apprentice for the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Missy has performed and taught across the U.S. and in Greece, Finland, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia & Japan. Missy earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BS from SUNY Brockport and she has recently developed various new courses including one called Choreographic Voice: Dance and Social Justice in the UR Program of Dance. She has received various grants from The New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature, administered by the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester and Livingston Arts, a member supported organization. Smith and/or BIODANCE have also received support from The Max and Marian Farash Foundation, the Rochester Community Foundation, Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Center for Teaching and Learning, among others.

W. Michelle Harris(Media Artist) is a media artist and aNew Mediaprofessor at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is also a member of Rochester’s WOC Art Collective. Her video installation work (solo and collaborative) has been shown at such diverse venues as the ACM SIGGRAPH, World Maker Faire, and INST-INT, as well as regional venues such as Gallery 74, Community Folk Art Center, Schwienfurth Memorial, and Squeaky Wheel. She has done live-mixedvisuals for performances in collaboration with Juanita Suarez, fivebyfive, Dave Rivello,Reenah Golden, Sound ExChange orchestra, and most prolifically, BIODANCE. Michelle has been an ongoing collaborator with Missy Pfohl Smith and BIODANCEsince 2013. She received her BS from Carnegie Mellon University, and a MPS from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (where she had the honor of interning with Troika Ranch).

Michael Burrittis one of the World’s leading percussion soloists, having performed on four continents and more than forty states. He is in frequent demand performing concert tours and master classes throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada. Burritt has been soloist with the United States Air Force Band, Dallas Wind Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Ju Percussion Group (Taiwan), Percussion Art Quartet (Germany), Amores Percussion Group (Spain), Nexus and the Third Coast Percussion. Mr. Burritt has three solo as well as numerous chamber recordings. In 2006 he recorded the Joseph Schwantner Percussion Concerto with the Calgary Wind Ensemble on the Albany label and is soon to release a new recording of solo and chamber works by Alejandro Viñao. Burritt released a recording project with the world renown percussion group Nexus titled Home featuring his new work Home Trilogy, commissioned by the group. He has been a featured artist at nine Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. In 1992 he presented his New York solo debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and in 1998 performed his London debut in the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Burritt has extensive chamber and orchestral experience and has performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, The Chicago Symphony, Nexus, Third Coast Percussion and the The Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra. Burritt is also active as a composer, with three concertos to his credit as well as numerous solo and chamber works for marimba and percussion. His works for solo marimba have become standard repertoire for the instrument and are frequently required repertoire on international competitions. Commissions include The World Marimba Competition in Stuttgart Germany, The Paris International Marimba Competition, Nexus and the Paris Percussion Group. Mr. Burritt is published with Keyboard Percussion Publications, C. Allen, Masters Music and Innovative Percussion. Burritt is also an artist/clinician and product design/consultant for Malletech, where he has developed his own line of marimba mallets and the MJB Signature Marimba. He is an artist / educational clinician with the Zildjian Company and Evans Drum Heads and Yamaha Drums. Mr. Burritt is the President Elect of Percussive Arts Society, was a member of the Board of Directors from 1996 – 2008, a contributing editor for Percussive Notes Magazine from 1991 – 2006 and was chairman of the PAS Keyboard Committee from 2004 – 2010. Burritt is currently Professor of Percussion and head of the department at The Eastman School of Music where is only the third person in the history of the school to hold this position. Prior to his appointment at Eastman, Burritt was Professor of Percussion at Northwestern University from 1995-2008 where he developed a program of international distinction. Burritt received his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees, as well as the prestigious Performers Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, a newly renovated Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives major funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families. For more information about RMSC, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeand Instagram.


New work premieres in Glendale, AZ

Missy Pfohl Smith created a new work in collaboration with the dancers at Glendale Community College. In a concert series entitled HUMAN on April 26-28, 2019, Smith’s Assumptions, Assertions, Ascensions premiered in Glendale, Arizona, performed by members of Verve Dance Company.

Photos by Nathan Pallace.

Aria, the encore, 5/16-17/2019

Critical Acclaim:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                   

March. 5, 2019                                                                        

Media Contact: Missy Pfohl Smith

Email:[email protected]


BIODANCE encores the acclaimed Aria at Lyric Theatre May 16-17

BIODANCE/Missy Pfohl Smith teams with media artist W. Michelle Harris, soprano Kearstin Piper Brown and chamber ensemble fivebyfive to reprise 

“…an absolute masterpiece.” (Rochester City News)

Rochester, NY – Lush contemporary dance, opera, and media projection and live music create a new way of seeing the majestic Lyric Theater. This 2018 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),surprises audiences with eye-popping visuals that shed new light on opera, dance and performance. From the co-creators of the sold-out shows Anomaly and Labyrinth at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, Ariawill be reprised 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. 

“This artistic team is stellar, with W. Michelle Harris projecting unbelievable color and design on top of and behind the dancers of BIODANCE, with Kearstin Piper Brown’s magnificent voice helping us all climb into the depths of our souls, and with the sublime musicians of fivebyfive playing in a gorgeous space, the Lyric Theatre, one of Rochester’s architectural gems,” says Missy Pfohl Smith, project director and choreographer. 
Aria premiered in the Keybank Rochester Fringe Festival this past September to popular and critical acclaim. Said City Newspaper, “Aria opened on Sunday to a nearly full audience. This year’s iteration of what’s come to be an annual collaboration between BIODANCE choreographer Missy Pfohl Smith and digital media artist W. Michelle Harris, every bit of the performance was an absolute masterpiece.”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. BIODANCE is thrilled to be able to offer the encore of this special collaborative venture one more time in Rochester.
BIODANCE is committed to providing access to its work to a broad audience and will be offering a limited number of free tickets to the senior center at Community Place of Greater Rochester and to the Joseph Avenue Arts and Cultural Alliance. 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.


Only two shows! 

Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17 at 8pm

Lyric Theater, 440 East Ave. Rochester, NY 14607

Tickets can be purchased online, at Wegmans, or at the door:
Premium Seating $22, General Seating $15

Phone: (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, Missy Pfohl Smith

fivebyfive: Laura Lentz (flute), Marcy Bacon (clarinet), Sungmin Shin (electric guitar), Eric J. Polenik (bass), Haeyeun Jeun (piano)


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.

BIODANCEis 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 Decentralization/New York State Council on the Arts  and the NYS Legislature, administered by Livingston Arts and the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, 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. 

W. Michelle Harrisis a media artist and a New Media professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is also a member of Rochester’s WOC Art Collaborative. Her video installation work (solo and collaborative) has been shown at such diverse venues as the ACM SIGGRAPH, World Maker Faire, and INST-INT, as well as regional venues such as Gallery 74, the Baobab Cultural Center, Community Folk Art Center, Schwienfurth Memorial, and Squeaky Wheel. She has done live-mixed visuals for performances in collaboration with Juanita Suarez, fivebyfive, Dave Rivello, Reenah Golden, Sound ExChange orchestra, and most prolifically, BIODANCE. Michelle has been an ongoing collaborator with Missy Pfohl Smith and BIODANCE since 2013. She received her BS from Carnegie Mellon University, and a MPS from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (where she had the honor of interning with Troika Ranch). Harris is an associate professor teaching New Media Interactive Development at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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. 

fivebyfiveis a quintet based in Rochester NY, formed in 2015 with a mission 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. The group performs works of today’s leading composers, supports emerging composers from around the world, and collaborates with artists across the disciplines. Through its workshops and educational concerts fivebyfive aims to spark young people’s unlimited creative potential. The winner of the 2018 Eastman/ArtistShare New Artist Program for its commissioning project for new works inspired by the stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter, fivebyfive also has received funding from New Music USA, the Decentralization Grant of New York State and the Farash Foundation. fivebyfive is 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.


“Out Beyond Ideas…” 4/6/19 Nazareth College

BIODANCE performed “0ut beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” (Rumi) on April 6, 2019 at Nazareth College as part of the Vision of Sound Festival.

Choreography by Missy Pfohl Smith and BIODANCE, with contributions by Shahin Monshipour. Performed by Alex Alletto, Zachary Frazee, Sarah Johnson, Natalia Lisina, Nanako Horikawa Mandrino. Music composed by Carrie Magin.