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February 12, 2005

RIT/NTID troupe puts spotlight on joy of dance

From: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester,NY,USA - Feb 12, 2005

Performance to celebrate everything from hip-hop to ballet

Greg Livadas
Staff writer

(February 12, 2005) — Whether you're a fan of modern dance, more contemporary tap dancing or the swing dance popular decades ago, chances are there will be something you'll like on stage at Rochester Institute of Technology this weekend.

DanceFest 2005, a two-hour show with about 60 performers, will feature hip-hop dance from Flux Fusion, a student group, and a ballet performance in honor of George Balanchine. Nearly all of the performers are RIT students and many are in the RIT/NTID Dance Company.

"People will see a variety of dance and experience different kinds of dances and styles," said Thomas Warfield, director of dance at RIT and DanceFest director and choreographer. "There are so many different ones and they're all valid."

What the audiences might not know is about half of the performers are deaf or hard of hearing. There are few words spoken in the performance; those that are also will be interpreted in sign language.

Scott Whitman, 20, of Middletown, R.I., a student at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf, says his tap dancing "brings the sound to my ears. ... I can show the world that a deaf person can dance with or without sound."

Kelly Benjamin, 22, an environmental science major from Washington, D.C., will perform in The Beloved, a Lester Horton piece based on a story about a man who beat his wife to death with a Bible as he accused her of being an adulterer.

"Some of the pieces are really abstract, and some are really straightforward and some are really fun," she said.

Another performer, Ray Pauszek, 19, of Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, is a chemistry major who started dancing last year.

"I was a gymnast and had a little bit of training for that," he said. "I was looking for something to keep me active and meet new people. It was a really good way to stay fit."

He said he hopes RIT will not just be known as a good technical college, but also known for its performing arts.

"We've been working really hard on all of this and like to show off our hard work," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

"I hope the audience comes away with a better appreciation for dance, and for the collaboration for hearing and deaf students to work together, seamlessly," Benjamin said.

If you go

What: DanceFest 2005, performances of a variety of dance styles.

When: 7:30 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Robert F. Panara Theatre at Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Henrietta.

Admission: $7; $5 for students and seniors, available at the door. Tickets may be reserved via e-mail at

Copyright 2005 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle