By Rachel Y. DeGuzman
With Bill Wade’s philosophy about the relationship between audiences and performers as well as Inlet’s renowned ability to adapt its choreography to fit performance environments, Inlet Dance Theatre is the ideal company to open the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival in a Dance Walk down ARTWalk -followed by a main stage performance at Nazareth College Arts Center and a strolling parade the next day on Schoen Place in Pittsford.
I knew all of this from reading bios and articles on Inlet Dance Theatre. Arts Center director Lindsay Reading Korth spoke of how charming the company was. I was prepared for nice. I was looking forward to interviewing Wade.
On a visit to Rochester last Wednesday for the interview and to scope out the various performance spaces, artistic director Bill Wade re-emphasized Inlet Dance Theatre’s desire to break through the traditional barrier between the audience and performer. He also said that Inlet has the rare ability to deconstruct their choreography and adapt to the audience, performance space and objectives of the presenters. They have done a great deal of corporate work – with Levi’s in the Go Forth campaign and at the recent Lexus Auto /Lexus Style Show. Inlet does a lot of interactive work with schools – especially with at risk youth.
I went down to the Arts Center lower lobby to greet Bill Wade and two of his male dancers. Wade arrived right on time with Justin Stenz and Joshua Brown, who I recognized immediately from a “Close Shave” image that had been used in Arts Center marketing. I was then told that Justin was the other “bald” dancer in the shot, but that his hair had grown back.
It was great to meet the dancers who were featured in what was becoming an iconic image of the festival. I shared that their photo was in the graphic in a backlit light box in the upper lobby - created to promote the festival.
They could not wait to see it and ran up the grand staircase to check it out. Then Josh (top) and Justin (bottom) recreated the pose in the graphic – right there in the lobby. Bill Wade took pictures on his smart phone. I was thrilled to see their excitement. They were very nice. It was charming.
Then I sat down with Bill Wade for the interview (taped by Rick Hager). Wade spoke of empowering people. Of his profound respect for his dancers and that they were a family. Of his admiration for Elizabeth Streb’s work. He spoke of Inlet’s mission to use dance to change people’s lives for the better. I was more excited than ever.
Bill, Joshua and Justin went off with Lindsay Reading Korth and Bets Quackenbush (Naz Arts Center’s technical director) to tour the theater and the canal. I met back up with them at the Memorial Art Gallery. I was hoping to get more insight on the Dance Walk at Art Walk performance program.
Wade determined that Inlet’s opening performance on the jewel box at the MAG would be an interactive performance. Among other things, they would deconstruct Inlet’s work BALListic for the opening performance and teach the audience some steps for the Dance Walk parade down ARTWalk. Something fun and easy. There would be amazing puppets. Joshua refined the program adding some variation on the plan for the progression down University.
Bill Wade went on to state that Inlet Dance Theatre will also perform the concert dance version of BALListic on the Callahan Theater stage that evening- the entire work with lighting, sound and costumes. The program will also include Beauty in Tension, which is “centered in the topic of anxiety ridden economic times, this work explores how people lives under tension are held back by circumstance, and are caught in emotional turmoil…Moments of beauty, release and freedom amidst this tension inspire hope.”
Inlet Dance Theatre is talented and charming with interesting, relevant repertoire and they are as thrilled to come to Rochester to perform as we are to welcome them. It is beyond exciting. Inlet is such a great fit for the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival that it seems like it was meant to be.
For more information about the Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival, please visit go.naz.edu/dancefest.