Geva’s first Fringe performances take place this evening, so we’re wrapping up the Road to Fringe series so we can all get out there and see (or put on!) some shows! Here’s a bit about what to expect from this year’s collaboration between choreographers Heather Roffe and James Hansen, Merged VI.

Merged returns to Geva Theatre Center after 5 years of critically acclaimed performances. This year, international choreographers Heather Roffe and James Hansen will premiere new works as well as reviving audience favorites that range from thoughtful to humorous and include music by Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and Emmylou Harris. City Newspaper wrote of Merged 2013: It “seemed new and fresh, yet it was still accessible and, at times, even poignant;” “I was flat out amazed;” and “I was captivated by…some very exciting dancing.”  In 2014 they wrote, “I was moved nearly to tears” and “It was a work of art in motion.” And in 2017 City wrote, “It was breathtaking.”

The work in Merged VI blends physically exciting dance and theatricality to produce a concert that is simultaneously thought-provoking to seasoned dance viewers and accessible to first-time audience members. The cutting-edge choreography will be performed by Rochester’s most celebrated dancers and new guest artists, including: Heather Roffe, Beth Rodbell, Adam Kittelberger, Allison Bohman, Christy Benincasa, Devon Monin, Nanako Horikawa, Liz Fleche, and Alex Alletto…plus about 12 others!

We have been hard at work on this show, creating and rehearsing all summer long. Three new works by Roffe will be unveiled, and 2 new connected works by Hansen. (Plus a couple oldies but goodies that are audience faves!)

Audience members sometimes ask: “How do I look at dance that isn’t telling a story, or built off a narrative?”  These observation “muscles” aren’t as well-developed, since we are not exposed to Dance as much as we are to other forms of art, like visual art and music. Well, here’s a few tips for entering the world of (often abstract) Modern dance:

  • Don’t worry about “what it’s about” – often audiences get so wrapped up in figuring out what the choreographer is trying to communicate, they can’t enjoy the art that is being presented to them….Just observe, pay attention to what’s transpiring on the stage, and develop your own ideas or themes of what you’re seeing…. that’s OK!
  • Notice the details – choreographers spend a lot of time finessing the turn of a hand for a visual effect, or selecting the costumes to convey a certain context, or creating the title to give the audience an entry into the performance. Follow these clues to make your own meaning!
  • Talk to others about what you saw – What details, nuances, and relationships did you notice? Did it conjure up some visual memory or idea for you? How did the piece make you feel? Follow your intuition, interpret the clues the choreographer and dancers have provided, and trust your own intellect…Then, comparing notes with others offers you even more insight into various perspectives on the work. Even better, after the show, talk to the dancers and choreographers themselves!

Heather Roffe has had her work performed nationally and internationally, most recently in the UK, Caribbean and NYC, and has danced with Garth Fagan Dance Company, FuturPointe Dance, and with Bill Evans Dance. Roffe has been described as “One of the most dramatic and exciting dancers in our region.” (Democrat and Chronicle), “Cutting Edge” (City Newspaper) and “Striking” (npr.org). Currently, she is an Associate Professor and directs the Dance Program at Nazareth College.

James Hansen had a 15-year career in NYC dancing with the Eglevsky Ballet and Sean Curran Dance Company.  His choreography has received rave reviews across the country including “A wonderful example of how much the human body can communicate.” (Backstage NY), “A thoughtful meditation on group dynamics.” (NY Times) “Breathtaking” (Richmond Times Dispatch) and “mesmerizing” (Norfolk’s Portfolio Weekly).  He has been produced by some of the most prestigious dance festivals including 2 years at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival. Additionally, he is a full Professor and Director of the undergraduate program in Dance at The College at Brockport.

Performances are Sept 19 at 7:30, Sept 20 at 9pm, Sept 22 at 2:30pm.  Check out our Facebook page for sneak-peaks and photos of some of the new works! 

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