Release Date: May 24, 2018
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Museum of Science have partnered to offer a live dance installation that explores the human microbiome and its impact on health, mood and love.
Presented by Anne Burnidge Dance, the performances, “Balancing Act” and “What We Leave Behind,” will merge art and science through choreographed dance sequences with yogurt, love songs about bacteria and installations that range from microbe ball pits to miniplots of grass and dirt.
A living biological art piece, “Mud (Lake Ontario)” by Canadian artist Nicole Clouston will also be on exhibit during the performances.
The goal: to reveal the inner workings of the millions of microscopic friends who call the human body home.
All public performances will be held June 2, 3, 9 and 10 at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo. Performances are scheduled at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Price is included with the cost of admission.
The performances will alternate between the two segments, “Balancing Act,” a 35-minute routine that invites guests to walk alongside dancers as they move through vignettes, and “What We Leave Behind,” a 45-minute show for seated audience members.
On June 7, from 6-9 p.m., the Buffalo Museum of Science will also host Science After Hours: Tiny Worlds Inside, an event that features an immersive performance with dancers, guest speakers from UB, and the opportunity for visitors to peer into cellular depths at microscope stations and listen to inner gurgles with stethoscopes.
Science After Hours: Tiny Worlds Inside is open to visitors age 21 or older. Tickets are $16 with 10 percent off for Buffalo Science Museum members. To register, visit https://bit.ly/2IDveIj.
More than 100 local schoolchildren will receive special viewings of the performance, along with hands-on learning activities at the museum.
The project is supported and sponsored by the UB Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM). The performances were forged in close collaboration with scientists Jennifer Surtees, PhD, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, and former Jacobs School faculty member Lixin Zhu, PhD.
“Looking at mixed messages in the media about nutrition, age, stress, exercise and other factors that affect our health, this choreographed work seeks to initiate and participate in the dialog about healthy lifestyle practices and the role that human microbiota play in maintaining balance,” says Anne Burnidge, artistic director of Anne Burnidge Dance and associate professor in the UB Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Merging art and science, the work offers an evocative, kinesthetic experience for the audience as an embodied inroad to complex scientific ideas.”
About “Balancing Act” and What “We Leave Behind”
“Balancing Act” is an examination of the gut microbiome’s effect on mood, love and health through a series of choreographed vignettes, folk songs, video montage and spoken text. Performers will portray competing messages regarding health in the media, the struggle between good and bad microbes, how microbes impact romantic attraction and more.
The audience will be led on a guided tour through the installation, as dancers perform with yogurt, sing the fermentation blues and explore the effects of too much sugar. A microbe ball pit and miniplots of grass and dirt – made of fabric and plastic mulch – used by dancers during the performance will be available for children to play in afterward.
“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 the adaptability of microbiomes to changing environments, revealing themes of diversity, mutation, symbiosis, antibiotic resistance and resiliency.
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.
For more information about “Balancing Act” and “What We Leave Behind” or the upcoming performances at the Buffalo Museum of Science, visit buffalo.edu/gem/balancingact. More information about Science After Hours: Tiny Worlds Inside is available at sciencebuff.org.