Understanding Microscopic Worlds Through Choreography and Play

2 Minutes with the Microbiome: Embodied Research Through Dance

Balancing Act features a series of choreographed vignettes created by Associate Professor Anne Burnidge. The performance navigates the intricacies of the human microbiome and its effects on our mood, relationships, and overall well-being. Through dance sequences, folk-songs, video montage and spoken text, Burnidge and dancers explore issues that affect the homeostasis of the microbial-human ecosystem.

Engaging with the Public

All performances, including a special, adults-only Science After Hours Event, took place at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The shows alternated between an interactive series of vignettes, "Balancing Act," and a seated performance, "What We Leave Behind."

In total, more than 650 people enjoyed this unique experience that combined dance, choreography, research, and outreach on the microbiome. Of those, about 113 were third- and fourth-grade students from local schools. 

About the Project

Balancing Act examines the gut microbiome through dance and other media, portraying: competing media messages; trying to adopt a diet with pre- and pro-biotics; “good” and “bad” microbes; playing in the dirt; how microbes impact romantic attraction; and more Lighting, sound, and set design coalesced into an installation for the audience to interact with during and after the performance. 

Dancers performing

Anne Burnidge Dance Company performing “Semi-Permeable." Photo Credit: Laura Nasca.

Artistic collaborators include Carlie Todoro-Rickus (lighting designer), Eric Burlingame (sound designer), John Rickus (technical director) and Collin Ranney (costume and set designer).

Anne Burnidge Dance features performances by: Courtney Barrow, Elyssa Bourke, Alexia Buono, Stephani Foraker, Nancy Hughes, Monica Karwan,  Rachel Keane, Brooke Laura, Michaela Neild, and Cynthia Pegado.

Balancing Act is a component of a broader creative investigation of the human body as a host ecosystem for microbial communities, titled, "What We Leave Behind.” The project explores ideas relating to the adaptability of microbiota to changing environmental stimuli, revealing themes of diversity, mutation, symbiosis, antibiotic resistance, and resiliency.