UR Celtic Steps into the Spotlight

“We mix traditional with modern.” That was how one member described the UR Celtic Irish Dance team’s mission. I sat down with Rachel Eskridge ‘15, Carly Rutherford ‘17, and Chrissie Rutherford ‘16, three leaders of Celtic, to discuss the recent happenings on the collegiate Irish Dance circuit and here at the U of R.

The group was founded by a championship dancer, and according to the Rutherford sisters, it has only evolved since then. One fact they stressed was how new the Irish Dancing collegiate circuit is. It was only founded two years ago and includes many schools which are very “culturally Irish,” such as Villanova, Dayton, Catholic U, and Boston University.  Even with many talented dancers to compete with at these larger schools, the members of UR Celtic have been able to hold their own in the past two years. The latest competition, the Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival, held November 1st at Villanova University, saw UR Celtic take home bronze, moving into the money from their fourth place showing two years ago. Also noteworthy was Beverly Hamilton ’18, who took home silver in the solo dance category.

The Rutherford sisters come from a long line of Irish dancers.  Their grandfather came to America from Ireland and “revolutionized” the production of Irish Dancing shoes.  He went on to found Rutherford Products, the gold standard of traditional Irish Dance apparel. The Rutherfords also come from a legacy of champion dancers.  Another important influence on the Rutherford sisters was their father, who played the accordion at Irish Dance festivals.  “We have a three-time national champion in the family. Two of our cousins were on a dance show documentary on TLC called The Big Jig,” said Chrissie. “They’re unreal. One of them is training for The Lord of the Dance, one of the professional Irish dance productions. We’re on a bit lower level, but we still love them!” she said.  The sisters themselves, while not quite as famous, are still notable in their own right, earning much recognition at the regional and national levels.

UR Celtic is certainly fortunate to have the Rutherfords, who not only dance, but also serve the group as Co-Presidents and Business managers. In addition to being business manager, Carly serves as choreographer-in-chief. Chrissie said that the group’s best dance so far was a song that her sister choreographed.  When asked what inspires her, Carly jokingly replied, “Getting to mess with Chrissie!”  Having been around Irish Dancing so long, much of the choreography comes organically to the Rutherfords.

Celtic is divided into two smaller groups: one of beginner and intermediate-level dancers and another of more advanced members who perform and compete. Both groups practice twice a week. The girls stressed that UR Celtic is a group that is open to all, regardless of skill level. The beginner group just splits the cost of a certified dance instructor, which, according to Rachel, is a steal.

This has proven to be a year of victories for Celtic through their multiple chances to step into the spotlight. Last semester, on top of their success at Villanova, they also won first place at Delta Upsilon’s annual Dance for Charity, where they’ve been hoping to place for a long time. Stepping forward, Celtic hopes to hone their lines and formations for their St. Patrick’s Day show on Saturday, March 21st.

Spirit of old Vienna returns at 29th annual Viennese Ball

WHAT: The University of Rochester’s Ballroom Dancing Club will bring dancing and mystery to the River Campus with this year’s masquerade themed Annual Viennese Ball. The event is open to the public.

TIME, DATE, PLACE: 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Oct. 25, in the May Room, located on the 4th floor of Wilson Commons, on the University of Rochester’s River Campus.

ABOUT: Students, faculty and community members join together to don their formal attire and masks to dance the night away at the annual Viennese Ball, sponsored by the University of Rochester’s Ballroom Dancing Club. At 7 p.m., a complimentary crash course in Viennese waltz will take place for those who would like to learn or brush up their skills before the ball. The event will commence at 8 p.m. and includes live performances from a string quartet of Eastman School musicians, a local Rochester dance troupe, and the Argentinian tango club. A contest will also take place for the best dressed dancer, and the winner will be rewarded with a free lesson series from the Ballroom Dancing Club.

TICKETS: Tickets are available at the Common Market in Wilson Commons. Tickets are $12 for University students, $15 for University faculty, staff and graduate students and $18 for the general public. Masks will be available for sale at the door for $2.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Email urballroom@gmail.com or call Common Connection at 585.275.5911

Conference A Huge ‘Grand Jeté’ Forward For Student Dancers

By Quinlan Mitchell ’14

From March 12 to 16, students from the University of Rochester Program of Dance and Movement really got things moving. Along with program director Missy Pfohl-Smith and four faculty members, 14 UR undergrads participated in the Northeast regional conference of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) held this year at The College at Brockport.

The UR dance program has taken students to the conference three years in a row, largely due to the continued support of the Office of the Dean of the College, Dean Richard Feldman. Through generous sponsorship, Dean Feldman has allowed students of dance to take a huge ‘grand jeté’ forward as dancers and as people.

“Attending ACDFA was a pivotal experience in my college career, I’m so grateful to have connected with dancers whom I could have only met through ACDFA,” saysDan Hoffman ’15.

In return for the opportunity to pursue their art, dance students are showing their appreciation in a report to be presented to Dean Feldman, commenting on their experiences at ACDFA. Lauren Laibach, a senior at the U of R, has attended three ACDFA conferences.  Laibach says, “It’s so important for students from the UR program of Dance and Movement to broaden their horizons in terms of different approaches to dance and performance, and that’s exactly what ACDFA offers us.” Laibach also likes that ACDFA allows to her to watch a number of unique dance performances, something she loves to do.

Taking place on an annual basis, ACDFA regional conferences are part of a national initiative to promote dance as a performing art and nurture choreographic expression in college students. Dancers from all over attend conferences to engage in “three days of performances, workshops, panels, and master classes taught by instructors from around the region and country,” according to the ACDFA website.

Falling this year on spring break, the conference was not a chance for students to kick back and relax. Each day they participated in four master classes, running all day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a lunch break in the middle. After classes students also had the option of attending the formal, adjudicated concert for undergraduate pieces, often calling it a night around 10 pm.

This year the Program of Dance and Movement presented three student pieces at the conference, two for adjudication and one at the informal student performance. Dan Hoffman ’15 choreographed, “Meetings Along the Edge,” Jessie Hogestyn ’14 choreographed “Sounds of Silence,” and students enrolled in Dance Ensemble presented their piece, “Quantum Truths.”  Hogestyn’s piece also was featured on campus, at the Louvre Performance Ensemble’s “Bravado,” on April 5.

On campus, more student works from the Program of Dance and Movement also were featured at the student choreography concert, “Architectures,” as well as the outdoor concert “National Water Dances,” both held on April 12.




MelioRAAS! For Dance Team, It Doesn’t Get Better Than First Place!

By Erica Messner
Univ. Communications

For Rochester Raas, the University’s traditional Indian dance team, victory in their final competition of the year brought more than glory. Raas’ first place finish at Nasha 2013 was crowned by a shiny gold trophy and $1,250 in prize money.

Hosted by the American India Foundation of Purdue University, Nasha 2013 was a brand-new competition featuring Bollywood/Fusion and Garba/Raas divisions, and offering a sizeable cash prize for the top finishers. Rochester Raas beat out teams from Northwestern, Tufts, and UNC to take first place in the Garba/Raas division. To see Rochester’s winning set from Nasha 2013, check out this video posted by Raas:

Though their competitive season is over, the group will continue to perform in the community and prepare for next year.

The active members of Rochester Raas include: Minti Patel ‘13, Maryann Hong ‘13, Maral Arjomandi ‘13, Ki Cheng ‘13, Paul Vergara ‘13, Phil Cohen ‘14, Lauren Sava ‘14, Sydney Robinson ‘14, Rohini Rege ‘14, Priyanka Patel ‘15, Shakira Banhan ‘15, Marika Azoff ‘15, Shiv Patel ‘15, Sameer Shamsie ‘15, Sam Benham ‘15, Taylor Sargent ‘15, Sukanya Roy ‘16, Kim Rouse ‘16.

BPG, RCSD Students Take Center Stage

By Marissa Abbott ’14
Ballet Performance Group

On Friday, Nov. 16, students from the Dare to Dance outreach program lit up the stage at “Shake It Out,” the Ballet Performance Group’s annual fall show. Opening after intermission, the children, second and third grade students at Francis Parker School No. 23, performed a simple routine to “Good Time” by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen. The children’s energy radiated to the audience, resulting in an enthusiastic round of applause.

“The kids were just so cute.  Everyone in the audience loved their performance. I kept hearing rave reviews. The audience members couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful they were,” said junior Alyson Manning.

The Dare to Dance outreach program began in fall 2011, when BPG was looking to branch out and get involved within the Rochester community. The purpose of the program is to provide after school instruction in dance and creative movement. The program met weekly on Friday afternoons for eight weeks of instruction. This year, students were exposed to a variety of dance styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, and creative movement. With 20 students participating in the program, things could get a little hectic sometimes, according to junior Lauren Sava.

“As much as I enjoyed working with the children, there were definitely challenges. Second and third graders can be very rambunctious, so finding constructive ways for the students to release their energy requires a lot of creative thinking,” said Sava.

Despite these challenges, the program was extremely rewarding for students. According to junior Marissa Abbott, students greeted her with bountiful energy and bubbling smiles every Friday afternoon. Abbott, who is a member of the executive board for BPG and serves as the Outreach Coordinator, is in charge of coordinating the Dare to Dance program. Along with a committee of five to six members, Abbott prepared lesson plans for each week, coordinated with the school staff and parents, and choreographed a routine for the students to perform in BPG’s fall show.

“I am so proud of these kids. They exceeded my expectations, bringing bright smiles and incredible energy to the stage, while remembering their routine very well,” said Abbott.  “This was an incredible experience, from which I learned a lot. To see the kids up on stage having a good time, that’s all that really matters to me. I’m glad that BPG is able to provide this program and that we can share our love for dance with the Rochester community. I can’t wait until next semester.”

Anonymous Willpower: Eastman Doctoral Student Takes on Rochester’s First Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Erin Futterer, ’14E (DMA), a doctoral candidate studying horn performance at the Eastman School of Music, has lent her strong musical background and passion for “cross-media” into helping plan Rochester’s first Fringe Festival, which will take place from September 19-23.

A native of Arkansas, Futterer graduated from Northwestern University in 2007, majoring in horn performance, and went abroad for her masters, studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway. While there, she impressively combined her master’s studies with a Fulbright fellowship studying under world-renowned horn musician and teacher Frøydis Ree Wekre.

In addition to earning her degree at Eastman, Futterer works as a teaching assistant at the River Campus and stays involved in multiple arts and musical associations, including the Arts Leadership Program, Pegasus Early Music, and the Sound Exchange Group of Musicians. This summer, she embarked on her latest endeavor, helping to plan the Fringe Festival through an internship with the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program.

According to Futterer, the festival is an avenue for “promoting artistic culture” and helps to “connect different artistic mediums.” The event will feature local Rochester musicians, artists, dancers, and performers, complemented by headliners Patton Oswald, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and aerial dance group Project Bandaloop.

The concept of the “fringe” tradition started in Edinburgh in 1947 when eight theater groups turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival uninvited and decided to perform at venues they organized themselves.  Today, Fringe Festivals are held in nearly 200 cities around the world, including 20 cities in the U.S.

Fringe Festival Director Erica Fee ’99, whom Futterer describes as an “incredible mentor,” gave her the chance to contribute to the festival in any way that she wanted. Futterer says she picked the “fun job” of party planner, helping to organize a launch party aimed at getting the performers to know and support each other.

Futterer explains that a major aim of the festival is to “bring people of different specialties together” so artists of different mediums can get to know each other as “comrades rather than competitors.” She notes that one of the best things about the festival is that it is “100% nonprofit” and provides little-known artists and performers with greater recognition and support.

More than 20 venues have lent their support for the effort, with shows at Geva Theater, Eastman Theater, Millennium Park, and Little Theater, among others. Gibbs St. in downtown Rochester will shutdown to host the weekend-long festival. The effort has the support of many local businesses in the Rochester community, including the Boylan Code Law Firm in the Culver Road Armory, in which festival board meetings are held, several Rochester schools, including the University of Rochester and Eastman, as well as its biggest sponsor, First Niagara Bank.

Futterer has been thrilled about the process of organizing the Fringe, getting to know some amazing people in Rochester, and being a part of the effort to bring the city’s “hidden arts culture” and “little gems” up to the surface for more people to experience. She also appreciates that the festival “doesn’t speak to a certain age level or a certain genre … it is something for everybody.” The Fringe features 120 different shows, and covers a wide range of art forms:  theatre, dance, comedy, music, film, visual arts, multidisciplinary, children’s, and variety.

Tickets for the Fringe Festival are available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office on 433 East Main Street, Wegmans “That’s the Ticket!” locations, at the door of all venue locations, and on the festival’s website, http://rochesterfringe.com. A festival guide, which is featured on the website, provides listings of all shows and venues.

Article written by Caitlin Mack, an intern in University Communications.

University to Participate in First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Rochester’s East End district and the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music will be at the center of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival when it opens with entertainment headliners and self-produced shows from Sept. 20 to 23. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to apply by April 14 to share their talents in theater, dance, visual arts, music, comedy, and other creative pursuits.

“The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival is about inspiring even more creativity throughout Rochester’s large and talented artistic community, as well as attracting a large, diverse audience for their work,” said University President Joel Seligman. “The University has always been a passionate advocate for strengthening this city, and we believe that this festival will do just that.”

Erica Fee, who is the festival’s producer, a native of Victor, and a University alumna, described the independent shows that sprang up around the official 1947 Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland as the start of the fringe festival movement. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the world’s largest arts festival and runs for a month.

“Rochester’s four-day Fringe will also have that fun ‘expect-the-unexpected feel’ while showcasing everything from theater and dance, to visual arts and music, to comedy and family entertainment,” explained Fee. “There will truly be something for everyone!”

Individual artists, groups, and producers of all types can apply online at www.rochesterfringe.com for a place at the festival’s official venues, which include such locations as Kilbourn Hall and Hatch Recital Hall at the Eastman School, Java’s, and the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium. More East End locations will be added. Applicants also have the option to “Bring Your Own Venue” by discovering a location and gaining permission to use a site within the festival’s footprint.

Fringe festivals number about 200 worldwide with 20 in the United States, festival organizers say. Those closest to Rochester are in Toronto and Philadelphia. The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival will be the second location for New York State after New York City’s.

The festival’s board of directors includes representatives from the Rochester Downtown Development Corp., the University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music, Rochester Institute of Technology, Boylan Code LLC, and Mengel Metzger Barr. Many local cultural institutions support the effort, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House, and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as newer groups such as PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine.

To submit your show or for more information, visit the festival website at www.rochesterfringe.com, follow them on Twitter at @rochesterfringe, and like them on Facebook.

Article written by Valerie Alhart, humanities press officer in University Communications.


Rochester Fringe Festival logo courtesy of www.rochesterfringe.com

VIDEO: U of R Student Blends Biomed with Ballet

Univ. Communications – Biomedical engineering undergraduate Erin Keegan is taking advantage of the full spectrum of possibilities offered to engineering students at the University of Rochester. When Keegan, a member of the class of 2013, is not studying or working in the lab, she is embracing her other passion: ballet. She does this through the variety of dance programs, clubs, and classes that the University of Rochester offers.

Watch the video here

(Video created by Devin Embil ’13)

VIDEO: inspireDance Festival Takes Over UofR

Univ. Communications – This February, University of Rochester students, faculty, staff, and community members had the opportunity to experience Rochester’s dynamic dance community during the five-day inspireDANCE Festival. The festival explored how dance can influence dialogue, advance social development, create personal growth, and encourage cultural exploration and self-expression. A student-driven initiative, the event was organized by Arielle Friedlander ’11 as a part of her Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year project, with support from the Program of Dance and Movement at the University of Rochester.

To see highlights from the festival, watch the video.

“The festival gave members of the University of Rochester community the chance to learn, teach, and perform a vast diversity of dance styles,” says Friedlander, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., and a psychology major with an interest in dance therapy. “By experiencing these different forms, we hope participants gained a greater appreciation of the value of dance.”

During the week, local, regional, and national guest artists and master teachers conducted more than 20 classes and workshops. From beginner to advanced, participants had their pick of classes, including contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet, West African, Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Capoeira, injury prevention, contact improvisation, yoga, T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, and more.

The festival also was about connecting students with influential members of the local, regional, and national dance community. The festival’s featured master teachers included: Clyde Evans, Philadelphia hip-hop artist; Bill Evans, award-winning choreographer and esteemed dance educator; Missy Pfohl Smith, BIODANCE artistic director and director of Rochester’s Program of Dance and Movement; Darwin Prioleau, dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at The College at Brockport; Sue Callan-Harris, physical therapist; Cadence Whittier, chair of the Dance Department at Hobart and William Smith College; Nicole Cotton, Syracuse modern dance teacher; and the 10-member faculty of Rochester’s Program of Dance and Movement.

Additionally, the Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective (RCDC) brought together a roster of professional choreographers, dance companies, and dancers for two performances that closed out the festival.