Vision of Sound is the name of the dance and music concert featuring eclectic regional dancers and musicians, taking place this weekend at Hochstein School of Music and Dance. It is Artistic Director Mark Olivieri's vision to eventually transform the annual collaboration into an actual company.
"We have a core of musicians. We have a core of dancers. It's already basically already its own thing," Olivieri says. "Every year the performance grows and we perform in more places. This year the concert is being presented in four different places in the state, including New York City." The concert also took place in Syracuse in March, and will be performed Sunday, April 7, at Hamilton College in Clinton.
Rochester dance aficionados will be familiar with some of the concert's performers. The choreographers are Falon Baltzell, Stephanie Dattellas, Eran David P. Hanlon, Heather Roffe, Missy Pfohl Smith, and Cheryl Wilkins Mitchell. Composers are Jesse Benjamin Jones, Nicholas Omiccioli, Mark Olivieri, Sam Pellman, Nicolas Scherzinger, and Zhou Tian. Neva Pilgrim is also artistic director.
"What's unique about Vision of Sound is that not only are regional artists in dance and music introduced to one another, but they are also both premiering new work in four locations across New York State. It is uncommon for such a wide audience to have the opportunity to witness such a diverse collection of creative energy in two genres, with multiple companies and voices on one stage," says Missy Pfohl Smith, one of the show's choreographers.
Smith is also the director of the Program of Dance and Movement at the University of Rochester, and founder and artistic director of Rochester-based contemporary dance company BIODANCE. BIODANCE is distinguished by the exploration of social, political, and environmental issues in Smith's accomplished choreography.
In Vision of Sound, the dances of six choreographers are paired with the music of six composers. The musicians — who perform live — are all from the Society for New Music, also directed by Olivieri, and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Now in its sixth year at the Hochstein venue and its seventh year of being presented in Rochester, Vision of Sound was recently classified as a non-for-profit organization.
Olivieri is also assistant director of music at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Before that he spent eight years as composer-in-residence in the Department of Dance at the College Brockport. He stresses the collaboration between choreographers and composers, and dancers and musicians as a valuable source of artistic growth for all.
"It's so cool for the young dancers to get to work together with the composers. And to see dancers bring your music to life is, likewise, always exciting," he says. "In the best-case scenario, choreographers and composers will talk early and talk often. I say, 'Hey, start talking now!' "
Olivieri tries to pair dancers and chorographers regionally, as well as matching them by aesthetic. He cites, for example, teaming a post-modern composer with a choreographer whose movements express similar sentiments.
Olivieri defines post-modern as, "a blurring of the distinction between high art and popular culture," he says. "What is considered concert music anymore? Post-modern includes rock and roll, jazz and improve. As a composer, they're all part of my musical rhetoric."
As for six degrees of separation in the Rochester dance scene, try one or two. Olivieri lives in Canandaigua with his wife, Alaina Olivieri, and their five children. He has played and composed for such well-known dancers and companies as Jose Limon, Sean Curran, Doug Varone, Martha Graham, and Shapiro & Smith Dance. Last June his work for Kate Jordan Dance Projects, "Spent," premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Alaina Olivieri is a member of BIODANCE, and at Vision of Sound will be performing in a work of Smith's, as well as in a piece by Heather Roffe. Roffe is assistant professor of dance at Nazareth College, as well as a co-director of Futurpointe Dance Company, a Rochester-based contemporary fusion company that has also performed at Vision of Sound.
Roffe's sophisticated choreography often offers witty insights on society. Her work in the show is called "Collide-oscopic" and is performed to Sam Pullman's electro-acoustical music. She described it for City last week.
"It's a manifestation of the visual harmony and representations of mirroring and unison, combined with my musings on the disembodying, de-humanizing, and psychologically detrimental effects of 'trying to look like someone else' in today's culture," she says. "It reflects the inner tension between the pleasing nature of symmetry and the discord of asymmetry."