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Burchfield Penney hosts four-day dance festival

When Anthony Bannon, executive director at Burchfield Penney Art Center, was looking to expand the dance programming at the museum, he didn’t have to look far to find the right person to help him make that happen. Bannon tapped Jon Lehrer, artistic director of Buffalo’s Lehrer Dance to curate local dance artist performances at the museum. For his third such effort, Lehrer, was asked to program a full weekend of dance. Lehrer came up with "Gallery Dances," an ambitious four-day festival of local professional dance at the museum taking place from Nov. 10 to 13.

“It helps with my goal of fostering a solid professional dance community in Buffalo by enabling others to have a forum and a space to present work in,” Lehrer said.

For what he hopes will be the first such dance festivals at the museum, Lehrer chose more than a dozen stylistically diverse artists and troupes to take part in "Gallery Dances,"’ four intermission-less hourlong themed programs.

Here is a brief look at each. Events are free with gallery admission unless noted.

Devi Bollywood Dance will perform in the "Gallery Dances" Festival. (Photo courtesy Living In The Buff Studio by Paul Fanara.)

Devi Bollywood Dance will perform in the "Gallery Dances" Festival. (Photo courtesy Living In The Buff Studio by Paul Fanara.)


7 p.m. Nov. 10: Cultural Dance Night

Highlighting Latino history through dance and music, Amor and Heritage with MarCe Zerrate will present a program of traditional Latino dance  beginning with its roots in Africa, South and Central America and Europe. Mackenzie “Eirene” Lynch then delves into the origins of belly dance in her multimedia piece, “The Evolution of Egyptian Raqs Sharqi – A Brief History of Belly Dance in the 20th Century.” Led by founder Griffin Brady, Slyboots will present “The Slyboots Circus,” a multicultural work combining traditional West African music and dance, Chinese acrobatics, contemporary dance and magic. Dancer Lihann Jones of Ballroom Revolution then explores the history of swing dancing from its beginnings at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the 1920s to what a “Swing night” in Buffalo looks like today. Completing the evening’s offerings, Gaitrie Devi and her Devi Bollywood Dance troupe present “Behthi Nadiya” (Flowing Water). Performed to live and recorded music from the soundtrack to the 2015 Indian film "Bajirao Mastani," the dance uses the concept of flowing water as a metaphor for life’s changes, Devi said. All performances take place in the museum’s 156-seat Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium.

7 p.m. Nov. 11: Modern Dance Night

Moné Dance’s “Our Rooms” is a work-in-progress choreographed by artistic director and Niagara Falls native Nakita-Moné Billips. Set to music by Italian pianist and composer Ludivico Einaudi, the piece for four dancers was inspired by the isolation and social stigma some individuals with mental health and chronic illnesses feel about their situations, Billips said.

Hayley Sunshine’s multigenre ConvergeDance will present its new work “In Orbit,” the first of two site-specific works that will take place in the museum’s galleries. The other, “What’s In Between” is a new piece based on sensory switching performed by Nancy Hughes’ Center Dance in the museum’s East Gallery. Kim Vincent, coordinator of Niagara County Community College’s Tanzen Dance Company, will present “Innate Effort”  in the museum’s auditorium. It is based on the internal struggles and bottled up feeling experienced by some people in everyday life. Also in the auditorium will be the premiere of Melanie Aceto’s “Couplet.” Set to two songs by Caroline Mallonée, composer-in-residence for the Buffalo Chamber Players, the 10-minute duet is a collaboration with former Lehrer Dance company member Phil Wackerfuss, as “a response to Mallonée music,” Aceto said. Guided performances take place throughout the museum.


Rachael Leonard in Jon Lehrer's "Rascal." (Photo by Chad Cooper)

Rachael Leonard in Jon Lehrer's "Rascal." (Photo by Chad Cooper)

2 and 5 p.m. Nov. 12: Lehrer Dance

Celebrating its 10th anniversary season, the troupe returns to the Burchfield Penney to present excerpts from several repertory works including “Murmur” (2102), “Here in this Eden” (2013), “Loose Canon” (2006) and “Rascal” (2016). Enhancing the performance is graphic artist Claudia Carballada who will be drawing live impressions of the dancing that will be projected onto a video screen behind the performers along with real-time images of them dancing taken by Nate Benson. Lehrer Dance’s performances are in the museum’s Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium. Admission is $20 general, $10 members and $5 students with ID..

2 p.m. Nov. 13: Elaine Gardner: Buffalo's Ambassador of Contemporary Dance

Gardner, Pick of the Crop Dance founder and Buffalo dance icon, will look at the history of professional dance in Buffalo as well as explain her own development as an artist through photos and video excerpts from throughout her career. Joining Gardner will be Roman dancer-choreographer Benedetta Capanna who will perform a solo she and Gardner collaborated on. This event takes place in the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium.



What: "Gallery Dances" Festival

When: Nov. 10-13

Where: Burchfield Penny Arts Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

Gallery admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors (ages 62 and older), $5 students with ID; ages 10 and younger admitted free with paid adult admission.

Info: 878-6011 or

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