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Celebrating music, dance, and theatre

Supporting the performing arts

Collaborating across campus and in the community

Why create an Institute for the Performing Arts?

Creative activity and the performing arts are vital to the success of a major research university. The University of Rochester has long enjoyed world-class programs in the performing arts through the Eastman School of Music and our department of music, theater program, and dance program in the School of Arts and Sciences. The city of Rochester is home to a vibrant performing arts community.  The combination of a rich arts environment on campus with a strong local and regional arts community makes the University of Rochester the ideal place for the Institute.

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Meet the Director

New director of the Institute for Performing Arts, Missy Pfohl Smith, is also the Director of the University of Rochester Program of Dance and Movement and founder and Artistic Director of BIODANCE, a contemporary repertory dance company based in Rochester. A collaborative artist, performer and choreographer, she enjoys creating site specific work and recently created her second evening length show crafted for the 4 story RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium in collaboration with W. Michelle Harris, the company dancers, musicians and a visual artist for sold out houses. Missy's viola and dance work with Bridget Kinneary has been expanding to include new contemporary compositions by internationally known composers, and the duo sold out their run of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland in 2017. She is certified in Bill Evans Laban/Bartenieff-based pedagogy and teaches choreography, dance on camera, contemporary dance and social justice, and more. Based in NYC for 12 years, Missy performed and toured with Randy James Dance Works as a founding company member from 1993-2003, with Paul Mosley from 1997-2004, and with Philippa Kaye Company. She also worked as an apprentice for the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Her choreography, performance and teaching has spanned across the US and internationally in Greece, Finland, Poland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Scotland & Japan. Missy earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her BS from SUNY Brockport. BIODANCE has continually sold out shows at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, having been called "Gorgeous...astonishing...exceptional" and "a brilliantly crafted world of beauty, melody and calmness" by Rochester City News. In 2015, Smith started developing a BIO/DANCE and Social Justice Series in various community venues, and was selected for City News’ “The Rochester 10: Rochesterians doing great things behind the scenes.” Among BIODANCE’s awards are a Best of Fringe Festival for Best Use of Venue. 

Our Mission

The mission of the Institute is to support, cultivate, and promote engagement in the performing arts, encompassing scholarship, performance, and attendance at events, within the College, the university, the Rochester community, and the Western New York region.

Performing Arts Spotlight

Program of Dance and Movement students perform "Window Dressing"

Meliora Weekend 2016 featured an innovative performance by students in the Program of Dance and Music. Watch a brief video that gives a glimpse into the students' experiences in working on this exciting event.

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The College offers over 200 courses in the performing arts. About 30% of River Campus undergraduates participate in the performing arts each year. The performing arts tradition at UR reaches back over 100 years!

Support the Institute

Rochester is uniquely positioned to advocate, promote, and cultivate the performing arts on campus, in the community, and in the region. If you would like more information about the performing arts at Rochester, including ways of playing a role in supporting our efforts, please Contact us.

Learn More

Want more information about the Institute for Performing Arts? Contact us.