Webs We Weave – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Webs We Weave

Missy Pfohl Smith, visiting assistant professor in the dance department of HWS, founded the contemporary dance company BIODANCE in New York City in 2002 and continues to lead it as choreographer and artistic director. When she relocated BIODANCE to Rochester, she re-established it with a diverse company of regional professional performers who will make the company’s debut in this area on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Through BIODANCE, Smith creates innovative work, often by exploring environmental issues through collaboration with national multi-media artists. Her work, riddled with political and ethical matters, asks questions in theatrical, comical and unconventional ways, always through dance, and sometimes with text, film, music and ice cream. 

The show’s features include:

“Guzzle!” (a BIODANCE premiere): a multi-disciplinary collaboration involving a cast of eight performers, original music by composer David Homan (New York City), video by filmmaker Matt Costanza (Washington, D.C.), and choreography by Smith. From the greed of “Big Oil” to the brainwashing of Americans, this work discusses this nation’s need (or is it desire?) for oil and energy. Through movement, text, imagery and sound, “Guzzle!” asks pointed questions about our current behaviors in a culture of mass consumption. This work was developed with the support of a Hobart and William Smith Center for Teaching and Learning Grant in the spring of 2008. 

“EXCESS: created in collaboration with composer Abby Aresty and filmmaker Jesse Spielman, which explores American materialism and the pack-rat culture which clutters our time, environment and lives. “EXCESS” features five dancers, an original contemporary score for piano and string quartet, a dozen chairs, bubble-wrap, ice cream, projected video images, and more.

“Web we weave”: the company’s exciting new work set to an original score by guitarist and composer Thomas McMahon, (Charlotte, N.C.), and the acclaimed “Moonlight Sonata,” in which Smith will reprise her role in the work of renowned choreographer Randy James, will also be included in the program. 

Smith, based in New York City for 12 years, performed and toured from 1993-2003 as a founding company member with Randy James Dance Works, the company that The New York Times hailed as embodying “Emotion…choreographic variety and vitality…passion as well as ingenuity.” 

She has performed and taught across the U.S. and in Poland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Japan. Smith earned her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her B.S. from SUNY Brockport. She currently serves on the Board of Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective.

Company members of BIODANCE include Jeanne Schickler Compisi, Karen George, Alycia Bright Holland, Laura Regna, Heather Roffe, Julie Schlafer, Missy Pfohl Smith, Stuart Tsubota, Cadence Whittier and Courtney World.

The BIODANCE concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Spurrier Dance Studio, University of Rochester River Campus.

This fall, BIODANCE will also perform as part of the Finger Lakes Dance Concert at the Smith Opera House on Oct. 4.