Local artists will use dance to explore humanity’s role as home to microscopic life

The centerpiece of the show is “What We Leave Behind,” a new work by Burnidge that uses themes of symbiosis, balance and resistance to investigate issues that range from societal ills to the health of the planet. Photo: Douglas Levere

A performance hosted by Anne Burnidge Dance and UB GEM will use movement to examine themes of adaptation and resiliency within the human body

Release Date: December 12, 2016

“There is a long lineage of art and science intersecting with each other, including Da Vinci’s flying machines and Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s opera, ‘Einstein on the Beach.”
Anne Burnidge, UB associate professor and director of graduate studies in the UB Department of Theatre and Dance

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Science and art will fuse through a new performance that uses dance to explore the idea of the human body as host for tiny forms of life.

Through a unique approach to dance creation, local artists will reveal the origins of life, moving as genetic material in a twisting helix and fluidly transitioning between microbes that act as friend and foe to their human host.

The performance, “Dance in Process — Process in Dance,” is hosted by Anne Burnidge Dance; the University at Buffalo Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM); and the UB Department of Theatre and Dance.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Katharine Cornell Theatre in the Ellicott Complex on the UB North Campus. A discussion with the choreographers and dancers will follow the performance.

A second performance is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door only. Admission is free and open to the public.

The centerpiece of the show is “What We Leave Behind,” a new work by Burnidge that uses themes of symbiosis, balance and resistance to investigate issues that range from societal ills to the health of the planet.

The piece will begin by examining genetic composition, having dancers connect to form strands of DNA. As the dance progresses, performers will illuminate the relationships the human body has with the trillions of organisms that exist on or within it, and will explore diversity, mutation, symbiosis and antibiotic resistance with overall themes tied to adaptation and resiliency.

“Having university support for cross-disciplinary inquiry is important for innovative research development,” says Anne Burnidge, also a UB associate professor and director of graduate studies in the UB Department of Theatre and Dance.

“There is a long lineage of art and science intersecting with each other, including Da Vinci’s flying machines and Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s opera, ‘Einstein on the Beach.’”

Inspired by her interactions with UB biochemist Jennifer Surtees, PhD, in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, this work will be further developed as the focus of an installation performance and educational workshop at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

“A major goal of GEM is to promote a general awareness of the microbiome at all levels through broad collaborations between the sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts,” says Surtees, who also serves as GEM co-director.

“This transdisciplinary collaboration with dance allows us to explore the microbiome in unique ways, as well as to engage an audience that does not necessarily seek out science and make the information relevant to all. This knowledge is an important step in realizing the promise of the microbiome in health care.”

“Dance in Process — Process in Dance” will feature Nancy Hughes and Elyssa Bourke, veteran members of Anne Burnidge Dance.  Other performances will include a work by Zodiaque Dance, the UB resident student dance company; a piece by UB undergraduate dance majors led by student Lilibeth Javier; a solo performance by UB undergraduate dance student Laura Nasca; and a duet by Elyssa Bourke.

Local dancers include Courtney Barrow, Alexia Buono, Megan Castlevetere, Stephani Foraker, Monica Karwin, Rachel Keane, Brooke Laura, Kara Mann and Cynthia Pegado.

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