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Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival Lineup Announced

  • Published: March 28, 2012


  • Nazareth College 2012 Dance Festival Runs July 12-July 21
  • Overture performance with Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik at the RPO at Nazareth on July 12
  • Headliners: Bessie Award winner Beth Gill and Martha Graham Dance

Watch Dance Festival Announcement

A look at the news conference on March 27, 2012 announcing the 2012 Dance Festival with a blockbuster lineup. It starts with an Overture to the Festival with Jeff Tyzik and the RPO, to Bessie winner Beth Gill and world-known Martha Graham Dance, plus much more!

Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival Lineup Announced

Nazareth College President Daan Braveman outlined plans for the 2012 Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival, which runs July 12-21, including a special Pops concert by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), led by Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik; main-stage performances by the iconic Martha Graham Dance Company, Chicago’s acclaimed Luna Negra Dance Theater, and Buffalo’s wildly popular LehrerDance; and black box performances of “Electric Midwife,” the signature piece of two-time Bessie Award-winning choreographer Beth Gill.

“We continue to raise the bar, and this year’s Dance Festival promises to be our best yet,” says Nazareth College President Daan Braveman. “We have established new partnerships and welcomed new Sponsors. We are offering an expanded roster of headliners, as well as a variety of community programs and Master Classes that will be free and open to the public.”

New Partnerships: The “Bessies” and the RPO
As the Inaugural Touring Partner of the New York Dance Performance Awards (the “Bessies”), the Nazareth College Arts Center is pleased to present exclusive, black box performances of Beth Gill’s 2011 Bessie Award-winning piece, “Electric Midwife.” Gill also received a second Bessie in 2011, for “Outstanding Emerging Choreographer.” In addition, Gill will lead several Master Classes during the Dance Festival.

Nazareth College President Daan Braveman also announced a new partnership with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. On Thursday, July 12, the RPO will provide the “Overture” to the Dance Festival. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead the RPO in a survey of American dance music, featuring guest dancers from the West Coast.

"All of us at the RPO are thrilled to be collaborating with Nazareth College and its world-class dance festival. Our Pops concert for the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival is the latest development in our plan to reach beyond our traditional concert venues and to deepen our relationships with major institutions in Rochester’s cultural community," says Charles H. Owens, President & CEO, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

About the headliners
The RPO is one of our region’s most well-known and well-respected performing arts organizations. Since its founding by George Eastman in 1922, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music. For more than 80 years, the RPO has been known for its high standard of artistic excellence, unique tradition of musical versatility and deep commitment to education and community engagement.
Today, the RPO presents nearly 200 concerts per year, serving an estimated quarter of a million people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. RPO concerts also are rebroadcast on WXXI 91.5 FM.
Grammy Award-winner Jeff Tyzik has earned a reputation as one of America's most innovative pops conductors, recognized for his brilliant arrangements, original programming, and engaging rapport with audiences of all ages. The 2011-12 season marks his eighteenth season as Principal Pops Conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Oregon Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Informed by the expansive vision of pioneering choreographer Martha Graham, the Company brings to life a timeless and uniquely American style of dance that has influenced generations of artists and continues to captivate audiences. Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement and forever altered the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological, and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance.

Choreographer Beth Gill, received two “Bessie” Awards in 2011: she was honored as the year’s “Outstanding Emerging Choreographer,” and was also the recipient of a new, Juried Bessie Award, created in partnership with Nazareth College. Gill’s company will present “Electric Midwife,” her signature 45-minute work, which was designed for intimate settings.

Since its inception in 1999, Luna Negra Dance Theater has established itself as a significant and vital component of Chicago’s arts and cultural community. Founded by Cuban-born dancer and choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, Luna Negra celebrates the richness and diversity of Latino culture through the creation of works by contemporary Latino choreographers and through intensive, hands-on education programs that encourage discovery and exploration of personal and community identity. Steering away from stereotypes and folkloric representations, the company performs works of contemporary Latino dance with energy, power, and passion. Their signature style is a blend of Latin and Afro-Caribbean energy, ballet-based discipline, and contemporary movement. Luna Negra Dance Theater makes its home in Chicago at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, and tours nationally and internationally.

LehrerDance is a “small, enviable team of dynamite Buffalo, N.Y. dancers” (Chicago Tribune), under the direction of Jon Lehrer. Jon’s extensive background in both the modern and jazz dance idioms fosters choreography that is organic, artistic, accessible, and often humorous.
The LehrerDance style has been best described as “organically athletic” – integrating the approach and fluidity of modern dance with the excitement and energy of jazz dance to create an expressive, engrossing style of movement.
LehrerDance began in July 2007 and has already received much national critical acclaim. Dance Magazine says LehrerDance “took the house not so much by storm as by quantum physics,” and is “on the cusp of jazz/modern fusion.” The company tours extensively, bringing their trademark athletic, edge-of-your-seat excitement to audiences nationwide. LehrerDance is proud to be the professional dance company in partnership with the University at Buffalo Department of Theatre and Dance.

Background information on the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival
For 43 years, Nazareth College has presented the most innovative and exciting dance companies in the world, and remains greater Rochester’s premier presenter of world-class dance. The Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival presents a vibrant array of dance, exploring the range of expression of the human body in movement. 

This summer marks the third annual Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival.

According to Susan Chekow Lusignan, Director of the Arts Center, “This year’s Dance Festival will showcase some of our region’s most respected artists; present some of the most renowned organizations on the national scene; enhance the visibility of local dance organizations that provide instruction; provide cultural events within a framework of learning; and introduce new audiences to cultural arts programming.”

The Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival expands the Arts Center’s significance as a vital cultural asset to the region, increases its annual economic impact to more than $4 million per year, and significantly stimulates cultural tourism to Rochester.

Performances by the five headliner companies – Beth Gill, the RPO, The Martha Graham Dance Company, LehrerDance, and Luna Negra Dance Theater – are ticketed events.

Tickets are now on sale, and may be purchased at the Arts Center box office at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, New York or by calling 585-389-2170. Regular box office hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. until curtain time on performance days. To purchase tickets online, visit:

In addition to the ticketed headliner performances, the 2012 Dance Festival will include many free events.

Free community programs
In addition to the headliners outlined above, the 2012 Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival will offer many programs that are free and open to the public, including Master Classes, an outdoor community dance program on the Memorial Art Gallery grounds, two evenings of outdoor “Dancing on the Grass” performances, an evening of Community Dances, and a Choreographer Conversation with headliner Beth Gill and Janet Eilber (Artistic Director, Martha Graham Dance Company).

Master Classes will be led by the Martha Graham Dance Company, Beth Gill, and the LehrerDance Company. Please note: Master Classes are free and open to the public, however pre-registration is required. Please contact Lindsay Chassé to register: 585-389-2180 or

Luna Negra Dance Theater will lead two sessions of Latin American dance as part of the Community Dances.

Sponsor Information
Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks announced that Monroe County is returning as a Sponsor for the third consecutive year. "The Nazareth College Dance Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us as a community to celebrate our rich and diverse culture of the arts," said Brooks. "Monroe County is a proud sponsor of this family-friendly event that enhances our quality of life."

RG&E has also returned as a major Sponsor.  “The Iberdrola USA Foundation on behalf of RG&E is honored to help sponsor this great festival for the people of Rochester and Western New York,” said Kevin Walker, chief operating officer, Iberdrola USA. “Top-notch events like the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival are important cultural assets that contribute to our quality of life and create large positive economic impacts for the region. They must be preserved.”

In addition, Nazareth College President Daan Braveman announced new Sponsors for 2012: Katie and Travis Betters and Bank of America will provide major support for this year.

“Now in its third year, the dance festival has become a premier cultural attraction in the Greater Rochester area,” said John Pitton, Bank of America Rochester president.  “In addition, the festival provides an important boon for the local economy.”

The Dance Festival is also supported, in part, by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Nazareth College Arts Center is the Rochester region's premiere mid-size theater and venue for world-class dance, children's theatre and international entertainment. The Arts Center brings to Rochester many of the same shows enjoyed by audiences at New York's Lincoln Center or the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The 2010 Princeton Review names Nazareth College the 6th Best College Theater in the country (up from #9 in 2009.) The Nazareth College Arts Center is the home of Rochester Children's Theatre and the performance home of Rochester City Ballet and Garth Fagan Dance. For additional information, visit

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