On Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Smith Opera House will come to life in a whole new way for Finger Lakes Dance!, an innovative dance performance that brings together an all-star cast of HWS and Finger Lakes dancers and choreographers on one stage.
“When I moved to Geneva in 2000, I was instantly impressed with the wealth of talented dance artists in this region,” said Associate Professor of Dance and Department Chair Cadence Whittier. “Last year, I began planning a concert that would bring these artists together in one performance at the Smith Opera House.”
“The concert features the performance of five of the choreographers, nine pre-professional dancers from Hassett’s Absolute Dance Company in Auburn, seven community members from Geneva, one visual artist from Waterloo, John Lord and four professional dancers who live and work in the Rochester area: Courtney World, Heather Roffe, Julie Schlafer and Stuart Tsubota,” explained Whittier.
The seven choreographers working on the performance include five members of the Hobart and William Smith Dance Department, including Professor of Dance and Associate Dean of Faculty Donna Davenport, Assistant Professor of Dance Michelle Iklé, Assistant Professor of Dance Missy Pfohl Smith, Professor of Dance and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Cynthia Williams and Whittier. These HWS choreographers are joined by Finger Lakes Region choreographers Yvonne Hassett and Jeanne Schickler Compisi.
Ranging in subject matter from the theatrical and comical to the dramatic and abstract, Whittier says that the show will be “…a lovely evening of contemporary dance.” Adding that, “There are nine pieces in the concert that are appropriate for dance enthusiasts of all ages.”
Giving a preview of this Saturday’s performance, Whittier explains the nine performances:
“Donna Davenport will present two pieces in the concert,” Whittier said. “Shortest Distance Between Two Points from 1994, is a theatrical, fun piece about lines in life, reconstructed for community members of various ages this summer; it features the performance of Margaret Newland, Leigh Pitifer, and Nina Pitifer of Geneva.”
“Donna Davenport also collaborates with choreographer Jeanne Schickler Compisi to present the fast-moving, angular duet Inside the Box,” explained Whittier. “In this duet, the choreographers investigate the creative possibility inside the structure of American life and suggest that human contact is our conduit for the freedom we’re promised.”
“Missy Pfohl Smith’s company BIODANCE presents her ensemble piece, Excess, with music by Abby Aresty and filmmaker Jesse Spielman,” Whittier said. “Excess explores the materialism and pack-rat culture which clutters our time, environment and lives. Excess features five dancers, an original contemporary score for piano and string quartet, projected video images, a dozen chairs, bubble-wrap, ice cream and more, more, more.”
“Yvonne Hassett’s Absolute Dance Company will perform Mother Earth,” said Whitter. “A dramatic, well-danced piece, Mother Earth explores global warming and its effects on the global environment and the human race. The piece imparts a message of action, hope and human responsibility.”
“Performed to a minimalist score for cello and piano written by Arvo Part, Cynthia Williams’s Absent Presence is a meditation on light and its ephemeral and prismatic qualities,” Whittier explained. “A visually stimulating piece, Williams designed the set and lights with vertical columns of prisms hanging from the top of the stage; the dancers’ movement continues the theme of reflection and refraction.”
“Michelle Iklé contributes wrought, a dramatic solo that explores physical and emotional tension and restrictions and features an original music score by Rochester-based composer David McGuire,” Whittier said.
“I will present three pieces in the concert,” Whitter explained. “[dis]connect is a comical modern dance duet that explores how two people’s dependency on portable communication devices changes the way they “connect” to each other.”
“Also in a theatrical vein, I collaborate with artist John Lord in beMused, an entertaining contemporary ballet duet that explores the artistic psyche through the dysfunctional (and humorous) relationship between an artist and his ‘muse.'”
“Finally, I present my solo, Off,” she explained. “Off balance, off center, and off-the-wall, the character Off embarks on a playful, light-hearted journey that appropriately ends upside-down, backwards and on-balance.”
With nine stellar performances gracing the Smith Opera House stage in one night, this is a performance not to be missed. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at the College Store on campus or at Normal Bread Bakery on 111 Washington Street in Geneva. Tickets can also be purchased at the Smith Opera House on the night of the performance.
Finger Lakes Dance! is supported in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, which is administered locally by Phelps Historical Society & Phelps Arts Center, and with Faculty Research Grant funds from HWS Colleges.