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CRITICS PICKS: Casey Carlson



Missy Pfohl Smith's Rochester-based company BIODANCE returns for its fourth season at Fringe with "BIO/DANCE & Social Justice," a program that examines a diversity of inequality and justice in today's world. Three of the pieces are from national guest artists; one is from Smith. Her piece is part of a program she has been executing in Rochester since the spring, aiming to initiate conversations with the community through free dance classes at a variety of venues including Monroe Community Hospital, the senior center at Community Place of Greater Rochester, Kinections, and Nu Movement. The pieces in this program will address racism, homelessness, sexual orientation, religious freedom, and sexism. Each of the four shows will differ slightly.

"We're looking at differences in general and how we don't value being different," she says. "The beauty of difference is so important in the world. Do we ever stop and just listen to each other? My piece is about being indifferent to all this injustice."

(Thursday, September 17, 6 p.m.; Tuesday, September 22, 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday, September 23, 7 p.m.; Saturday, September 26, 7 p.m. Geva Theatre Center. $12. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)

"No Safe Word"

New York City's KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre performs three times during Fringe, and it's a show I don't want to miss. "No Safe Word" is choreographed by former Dominatrix Arrie Davidson and is billed as a chance for viewers to ponder fantasy free of judgement. For mature audiences only, this performance includes bondage, spanking, and flogging. Last year, the group presented "Diaghilesque," a collection of Ballet Russe gems reimagined and presented as a combination of burlesque carnival and modern dance. This is a dance company that flaunts the status quo, and satisfyingly so. (Thursday, September 17, Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19, 9 p.m. Geva Theatre Center. $12. Appropriate for mature audiences only.)

PUSH Physical Theatre

The local dance-theater company PUSH Physical Theatre wins over audiences time and time again with its combination of physical humor, astounding mime, and near faultless acrobatic feats. At Fringe, PUSH will present both tried and true pieces from its repertory plus a sneak peak of a new work-in-progress, "Jekyll & Hyde." Based on the well-known Robert Louis Stevenson story, PUSH's physical rendering of the tale delves deep into the psyche of Jekyll from which springs Hyde, the evil alter-ego which is capable of despicable things. The part is played by several performers. "What makes the material challenging," co-founder Darren Stevenson says, "is that Jekyll is not innocent. He creates Hyde so he can get away with his worst impulses."

Part of PUSH's expertise on stage lies in digging out the underlying motivations of any drama. They stunned audiences with their in-depth characterization in "Dracula" several years ago. I'm confident they'll do the same with "Jekyll & Hyde."

(Saturday, September 19, 12 p.m.; Friday, September 25, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 26, 5 p.m. RAPA at the School of the Arts: Allen Main Stage. $18. All ages.)

Garth Fagan Dance

Garth Fagan Dance performed to excellent reviews at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in New York City this month. Next month, the group will perform in its rehearsal studio on Chestnut Street as part of Fringe. If you are a devotee of Fagan — an icon in the contemporary dance world — and his incredibly talented and disciplined company, don't miss this opportunity to see them in "Up Close and Personal." Although the program is not yet finalized, Fagan's newest piece "Dance For/With Geoffrey" (performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors) will most likely be shown along with perennial audience favorites "Prelude (Discipline is Freedom)," "Oatka Trail," "Thanks Forty(Five)-Fete/Joys," and "Passion Distanced." (Thursday, September 17, 7 p.m.; Friday, September 18, 9 p.m.; Saturday, September 19, 7 p.m.; Thursday, September 24, 7 p.m.; Friday, September 25, 7 p.m. Garth Fagan Dance Studio. $18. All ages.)

"Merged III"

Local choreographer Heather Roffe was one of 10 emerging choreographers from across the United States chosen to participate in a one-week intensive workshop with the prestigious choreographer Doug Varone in his CHIN program. The piece she developed in that program, "Twice Removed," premiered at the 92nd Street Y in New York City earlier this month. This piece will be part of "Merged III." Contemporary choreography James Hansen will also premiere a work in the show. "Merged I" and "II" were entertaining and accomplished shows which won favor with past Fringe audiences. Here's looking to "Merged III." (Thursday, September 17, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 19, 4 p.m.; Sunday, September 20, 6:30 p.m. Geva Theatre Center. $12. All ages.)

Bush Mango

Bush Mango, led by Colleen Hendrick, is a local African dance and drumming ensemble that features master drummer Mohamed Diaby from Guinea, West Africa, and dancer-acrobat Eric Borketay Ansuade from Ghana. This will be a high-powered show that will energize and entertain. Take the whole family. (Saturday, September 26, 5 p.m. Bernunzio Uptown Music. $10. All ages.)

"Bill Evans Dancer/75!"

If you are a fan of tap, catch "Bill Evans Dancer/75! with Don Halquist" at Geva Theatre. The show should probably read "75?!" because Evans remains on top of his game. Named one of three favorite tap artists in a Dance Magazine readers' poll, Evans can be counted on to present an outstanding and exacting performance. The show will include two iconic classic tap dance works, a duet with his partner Halquist and a humorous new performance art piece by award-winning choreographer Claire Porter. Another show that is perfect for all ages. (Saturday, September 26, 2 p.m. Geva Theatre Center. $12. All ages.)

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