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Artist Information

John Halpern’s public, participatory works, installations, objects, and films approach the pressing issues of our time with deconstructive perspectives, contemplative analysis, and wit. His public art events, like FRESH AIR SCULPTURE, engaged over 200,000 people worldwide in, 1990-93. His films, such as REFUGE and JOSEPH BEUYS/TRANSFORMER, have been shown theatrically and internationally on broadcast television. BRIDGING, created with Art Corporation Of America Inc. created a precedent for positive news programming by hacking the news media system . It won Best News of Year, 1977. In 1997, the Swiss government awarded Halpern a prize for his NEW CONSUME ALPS Cookie, an immersive project with unemployed people.  Today, Halpern, together with artist, Emily Marie Harris, is a founder and director of Institute for Cultural Activism International Foundation, a U.S. 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Margret Wibmer is a European partner and board member currently in Austria/Holland. Their mission is to identify and catalyze cultural activist movements and events throughout the world. THE TUNING FORK, a series of interviews with activists, worldwide, is approaching its 40th episode.  Their QR PORTAL ACTIVATIONS, performed in Italy, Sweden and New York, were featured in a ten-page article in Yacht Magazine, Oct, 2022. In his social-practice work, Halpern applies “New Consume Redesign Method (N.C.R.M.)” – the breaking down of “problems” into component parts and reassembling them in “New Aesthetic Forms (N.A.F.)” that liberate the systems of perception that conceptualized, marketed and branded them as “problems” to begin with.  The “Art Impact (A.I.)” of this practice sensitizes and enables the audience/participants to experience a measure of individual and social engagement and a creative freedom to impact outcomes to social or environmental challenges. Halpern teaches workshops in contemplative/creative practices through I.C.A.I.F. and in cultural and scholastic venues, worldwide.

Missy Pfohl Smith is a choreographer, performer, and collaborative artist who directs the Program of Dance and Movement and the Institute for the Performing Arts at the University of Rochester. She founded and serves as artistic director for the contemporary repertory company, BIODANCE, based in Rochester, NY. The "Gorgeous...astonishing...exceptional" BIODANCE plays to sold out houses regionally and internationally. As an enthusiastic collaborator, Smith enjoys creating site-specific, multi-disciplinary work and her socially conscious choreography, performance, and teaching has spanned across the US and internationally in nine countries—most recently in Greece, Germany, Finland, and Scotland. She sold out both of her shows in the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe with her violist partner Bridget Kinneary (ESM ’15), and has shared her collaborative work to over 15,000 local audience members in every Rochester Fringe Festival since its inception in 2012. Since 2010, Missy has been volunteering to teach limited mobility dance classes for elders at Community Place of Greater Rochester, where BIODANCE also offers gratis performances each year. Access the full bio by clicking on the artist's name.

Anne Harris Wilcox (MFA, NYS K-12 certification) is a full-time associate professor at the University of Rochester where she teaches and choreographs for the Program of Dance and Movement. She serves as the community engagement liaison for the dance program, and is on the Rochester Center for Community Leadership’s Capstone Committee. She is the founder and director of, Present Tense Dance, a contemporary dance company she ran from 1991-2016. ​Anne continues to choreograph independently; her recent work has appeared in multiple Rochester Fringe Festivals, National Water Dances at the University of Rochester River Campus, Dances at MUCCC series, Geva Next Stage, Artists Coalition for Change Together, and Wallbyrd Theater’s productions: Two Gentleman of Verona, MacBeth, Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet. She performed as The Shadow in The Shadow of the Hummingbird, directed by Lindsay Baker and has danced in several works by choreographers Missy Pfohl Smith (BIODANCE) and Rose Pasquarello Beachamp. Access the full bio by clicking on the artist's name.

Mariah Steele

Mariah Steele (BA from Princeton University, MA from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and MFA from Hollins University) is a choreographer, dancer, educator and interdisciplinary researcher. As the founder and Artistic Director of Quicksilver Dance, Steele’s choreography has been performed across the country and internationally. For this work, The Boston Globe Magazine named Steele a “rising talent” in the arts in 2013. She has also performed professionally in the companies of James Martin and Beth Soll in New York City, and with Peter DiMuro's Public Displays of Motion, Sokolow Now! the Anna Sokolow Archival Company, and Rebecca Rice Dance in Boston. Steele was on faculty at Endicott College in Beverly, MA from 2012-2015 and has taught courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Santa Clara University and the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Her interdisciplinary research has included an ethnography of Bharata Natyam and Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka, which also lead to the publication of "Shining Lights," a children's book Steele authored in collaboration with photographer Ganesh Ramachandran. Her case-studies investigating how dance can be used effectively in peacebuilding have engaged audiences at more than 15 universities, schools, community centers and conferences. Steele's current research interests involve combining dance and science in numerous ways, including an interdisciplinary collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation to explore teaching high school Physics through choreography and movement.

Nancy Hughes

Nancy Hughes’ work has been performed across the United States, Canada and France. Most recently Nancy has performed in work by Daystar Dance, Gerry Trentham and Ruben Ornelas while choreographing for local plays and musicals including The Full Monty and Stupid $%&*! Bird. She has received grants from NYS DanceForce, Arts Services Initiative (ASI) and most recently received the New York State Council for the Arts’ Support for Artists - Choreography Commission. For the latter award she will be collaborating with co-sponsor Burchfield Penney Art Center located in the city of Buffalo, NY. Her commitment to Buffalo is also expressed throughout the year as Nancy consistently produces events since 2012 like Mission Improvable: Contact Improvisation (CI) Intensive which includes 2 performances in which she collaborates with local and international dance makers and the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts Youth Performance Workshop. Nancy co-founded the Buffalo, New York, Contact Improvisation Jam in 2010, which led to her teaching regular CI labs and classes. In addition she coordinated the Global Underscore for 8 years and currently teaches contact improvisation as an adjunct professor at Alfred University. Since 2020 she has produced the weekly online Mission Improvable series. Residing in Buffalo, NY she performs in museums, homes, and silos.

Daniel Melo Morales is a first-generation latinx artist and educator. Working in sound, photography, and performance his work unfolds from aurality. He earned a New Genres MFA, with honors, from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in English from Kenyon College. Melo Morales has participated in the SOMA Summer CDMX residency, sonsbeek20→24 Summer Institute - Curating Noise: Reverberations and the Polyvocal, as well as the Headlands Center for the Arts’ Affiliate artist program from 2016 through 2019. He is a current member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and the US Latinx Art Forum.

Greg Woodsbie

Greg Woodsbie is a pianist and percussionist with a highly attuned sense of story and ritual, and backgrounds in jazz, classical, and Cuban music. Before joining the dance department at SUNY Brockport as full-time staff musician, he was a sought-after freelance dance accompanist and church musician in the Boston/Providence area. He has been a class pianist for the Boston Ballet company, and has performed with Bill Evans, Shura Baryshnikov, Kristina Berger, and Catherine Cabeen. He holds a degree in Piano Performance with a Jazz emphasis from Lawrence University.

Heather Acomb

Heather Acomb is a dance educator and yoga practitioner originally from the Rochester, NY area. In her modern dance classes, she enjoys exploring the intersection of dance and yoga on both physical and philosophical planes. Her hatha yoga classes invite all levels of movers into the practice with a focus on breath, body awareness, mind-body connectivity and honoring the individual self while playfully enjoying being in the present moment. She has held several full and part-time teaching positions at colleges and universities in the Rochester area. Heather performs locally on a project basis with Biodance, electric GRIT/Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, and Heather Roffe Dance. She has performed nationally and had her work shown in venues such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Core Project/Going Dutch, Rochester Fringe Festival, WAX Works, and Midwest RADFest. She holds an MFA in Dance from The College at Brockport, is an RYT@500, has toured nationally with the Bill Evans Dance Company, and is a certified Evans Technique teacher, Pilates mat instructor, and Holistic Health Practitioner, specializing in nutrition and natural healing.

Alaina Olivieri

Alaina Olivieri is a freelance performer, collaborator, movement artist, dance educator, and mother of five. She is an active member with Rochester based dance companies BIODANCE (Missy Pfohl Smith) and HadCo. (Eran David P. Hanlon). She also frequently performs with Commotion Dance Theater and Daystar Dance. Alaina has been a guest choreographer and instructor for the Ballet Ensemble of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Guest Ballet instructor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, co-curator of the Vision of Sound New Music and Dance Concert series, guest instructor for the Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute, and an adjudicator for NDEO’s National Dance Honor Society. She performs locally and nationally in festivals, theaters, galleries, and universities, and appears in photography and dance on camera. Alaina has been teaching dance for over 20 years, and is currently the director of The Ballet School of St. Peter's Community Arts Academy (Geneva, NY) where she enjoys teaching movement to people of all ages.

BIODANCE, based in Rochester, NY, is a contemporary dance and collaborative arts company directed by Missy Pfohl Smith who enjoy collaborating with multi-disciplinary artists, including long-time collaborator and media artist W. Michelle Harris. Recent projects have brought together the acclaimed dancers with music ensembles such as Dave Rivello Ensemble and Cordancia Chamber Orchestra, soprano Kearstin Piper Brown, as well as filmmakers, composers, and sculptors. The company creates site specific work such as in art galleries, outdoor spaces, and more, including three acclaimed full-evening length shows Anomaly, Labyrinth and The Fragile Corridor crafted for a 4-story planetarium. BIODANCE engages in community-based teaching and performing and has enjoyed more than a decade of work with Community Place of Greater Rochester Senior Center. Performers for Response: Rose Pasquarello Beachamp Sarah Johnson Wynton Rice Euridece Seche Missy Pfohl Smith BIODANCE will premiere a new show with Mount Hope World Singers at the Memorial Art Gallery on May 18 and 21, 2023.

OSSIA New Music is a student-run organization at the Eastman School of Music committed to performing the works of contemporary composers. OSSIA hosts concerts and events at Eastman and throughout the Rochester community and promotes the music of diverse and vibrant composers. Performers for RESPONSE: Floris Van der Veken (saxophone) Logan Barrett (electronics) Zoe Markle (double bass) Artur Korotin (violin) Zihan Wu (keyboard)

Roy Wood

While at Ohio University, Roy Wood took his first dance class to experiment with something new. Due to the combination of physical exhilaration, social connections, and joy of learning he felt when dancing, he took more classes – modern, ballet, jazz, swing, finally joining the professional modern dance training program at Ohio University, all while pursuing his BS in chemical engineering. Roy has studied modern dance with Gladys Bailin of Nikolai Dance Theater, Afro Caribbean and modern with Garth Fagan Dance, jazz with Bob Koval, and mime with Greg Goldstein. He has performed and choreographed with a number of companies, including Park Avenue Dance, Present Tense, Hallmarkworks, Rochester Dance Collective, and Unitarian Dance. His focus on both improvisation and choreography grew as he strove to integrate dance with his interest in social and political justice. He worked collectively with dancers and non-dancers, exploring personal, social, and political issues through improvisation, then turning the explorations into performance works using movement, sound and text, creating over 60 performance pieces, including the evening long dance drama, Central Park in Dreamspace. Roy went to his first “contact improvisation jam” in Ithaca in the 1990s and was thrilled by the combination of self-expression and community. Shortly after, he co-founded the Rochester contact jam and began attending workshops and jams around the country. He has studied contact improv with Andrew Harwood, Nancy Stark Smith, Martin Keough, and Alicia Grayson and others and continues to learn by attending workshops and dancing with experienced and inexperienced dancers alike. He has taught contact improvisation at contact jams, workshops, schools and universities in Rochester, Boston, Hawaii, Austin, Chapel Hill, Buffalo, and Plainfield, MA. He currently teaches Contact Improvisation I and II and Contact Improvisation and Culture at the University of Rochester. Roy is also a licensed professional engineer and continues to work both as a dancer and as an environmental engineer.

Sarah Coolidge

Sarah Coolidge (she/her), is an interdisciplinary dance artist and educator currently based in Rochester, NY. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and BA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College, and is also a certified Pilates instructor with a specialization in dancers. She has spent her professional career in higher education creating work, teaching dance technique (modern, jazz, ballet) and conditioning courses, and working with student-athletes to improve their athletic performance as well as prevent and overcome injuries. Sarah’s research focuses on dancer wellness: examining the ways in which sleep, rest, and food practices affect the physical and mental capabilities of the dancer, as well as the direct impact those decisions have on the creative process. Choreographer of dance and theatre since childhood, Sarah has had her work presented at numerous venues in the Northeast, including Nazareth College, St. Lawrence University, Edwards Opera House, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, and Goddard College. She has also been a guest artist at Nazareth College, South Jefferson Dance Company, and Ballet Academy of Northern New York. Her theatrical credits include choreographer for The Harley School’s production of Onegin, St. Lawrence University’s production of the opera Amahl and The Night Visitors, and local productions of Hello, Dolly! and Give My Regards To Broadway. Sarah has performed with BIODANCE, FuturPointe Dance, Grounded Ariel, Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective, Rochester Dance Project, Ajkun Ballet Theatre, and Rochester Lyric Opera, as well as performed works by various independent artists including Heather Roffe, Kathy Diehl, Ellen Sinopoli, and Mark O’Malley.


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