A story-driven dance-theater premiere

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“Trifactor,” an evening of story-driven dance-theater, will premiere this weekend at the Multi-use Community Cultural Center. The performance features work by three local choreographers and dance companies: Hanlon Dance + Company, Laurie MacFarlane and Ruben Ornelas. 

“We are a tri-factory of creativity, churning out three times the fun, excitement, and thrills of a regular night at the theater!” Ornelas says about the name of the program.

Each of the choreographers has developed their own works that will be performed as part of the evening. The event represents a continuation of collaboration between the artists; MacFarlane and Ornelas have collaborated for decades, including coordinating the annual “Dances at MuCCC” festival. Additionally, both artists have known Eran Hanlon of Hanlon Dance + Company for nine years.

“Trifactor” will present two pieces by MacFarlane. One of her pieces, “It was a normal day,” premiered at MuCCC in April and was made in collaboration with its performers. MacFarlane asked the performers to share stories that had to do with their experience of time moving very fast or very slow.

What resulted was a staged four-person work that combines a script and movement-supported storytelling. 

MacFarlane’s second work, “Witch,” also incorporates theatrical elements. The piece combines movement, costumes, and props to create a portrait of the notorious witch Baba Yaga from Russian folklore. MacFarlane has partnered with a long-time collaborator of hers, visual artist Martha Schermerhorn, to create costume elements for the piece, including fingers and a mask.

Ornelas’ work will first include a solo performed by Angela Lopez set to “Suite en Re,” written by Guatemalan composer Ricardo Castillo. His second piece will be a new dance-theater work set to poems written by Mexican-American poet José Olivarez. The poems offer a humorous look at identity, and Ornelas’s work will explore the absurdities of life a lived between cultures.

As for Hanlon Dance + Company, performers will premiere two new works: “Beacons of Light” and “The Light within Us.” Both explore the human capacity for deep connection and transcendence into vessels of energy and light.

“Trifactor” has performers from Rochester to Buffalo whom the choreographers have worked with in the past, including Nanako Horikawa Mandrino, Angela Lopez, Alaina Olivieri, Julie Schlafer Rosette and Donetta Tchoroleev. Hanlon and Ornelas will also perform.

“Rochester has a very strong dance community—there are some really outstanding performers,” says MacFarlane. “I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to work with these dancers and that they are interested in performing and helping me create the work.”

As for what they hope audiences will take away from the evening of dance-theater, MacFarlane and Ornelas hope to entertain while evoking emotion and conversation.

“My goal is to always connect to the audience and give them something they are going to respond to emotionally,” says MacFarlane. “The audience brings their own experiences to what they are viewing, but I hope I can somehow encourage some thought, or some feeling, or some reflection, or give audiences some pleasure for the time they are with the work.” 

“I too want to encourage people and give them something to think about,” adds Ornelas. “The performance has to be palatable to a certain degree, but you can challenge people, and that’s what I’m interested in doing.”

Funding for “Trifactor” comes from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts. 

MacFarlane and Ornelas find that support from the dance and arts community in Rochester allows them to engage the community at large.

“It takes a long time to develop a relationship with the community that you live in. Our work has no value without the support of the community. It’s about cultivating relationships little by little over time in the places that we live,” explains Ornelas.

“It’s important to have an engaged dance community that supports each other through working together and watching each other’s performances,” adds MacFarlane. “This draws in the community at large.” 

Performances of “Trifactor” will run through Dec. 2 at MuCCC, with all performances beginning at 8 p.m.

Evan Coleman is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer and a recent University of Rochester graduate. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].  

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