Norwich-based Phoenix dance company performs in Hamilton Saturday

HAMILTON – Phoenix Project Dance will defy your senses, illuminate your spirit, and blow your mind. The dances are fresh, bold, organic, raw, and intoxicating. Phoenix Project Dance returns to the Palace Theater stage Saturday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. featuring a large ensemble performing a variety of unique dance numbers.

“It is awesome to be part of a company which is so physically demanding, yet has such clear artistic vision. The power and strength required is countered by elegance and grace, and performing the choreography which brings the two together is both a joy and a challenge,” said Robin Wonka, a dance member. “It is no wonder that dancers will travel long distances, and sacrifice a great deal, to perform with the company,” she continued. “It is an experience like no other.”

Phoenix Project Dance is known for their demanding partnering, featuring balance and counter-balance, innovative lifts, and daring throws. Music from a wide variety of genres sets the stage, and adds depth and emotion to each work. This year, the show features performances which are designed to awe and delight. “Tango,” with music by The Police, is a unique and powerful take on the traditional tango, with familiar rhythms and strong, sensual performance. “Primal Scream” is a duo featuring Travis St. Denny and Robin Wonka, both of Chenango County. Traditional native music sets the scene for this raw and intimate piece, offering a glimpse into a primitive world of survival and lust for life. “Stonehenge” was inspired by the mystical prehistoric stone creations found in England. Music from Shoshtakovich flows around the dancers, building to a crescendo as they form images evocative of the megalithic monument with breathtaking throws and feats of strength. The show culminates with “Liquid Matter,” back by popular demand at the specific request of the Palace. Playful and surprising, dancers perform while splashing and sliding on a slippery water covered surface. Don’t get too close, or you may get wet!

Allison O’Neill, Phoenix Project Board member states, “We, as a board are very excited to see Phoenix Project return to Hamilton. It is our mission to stimulate the arts in Central New York. I think the audience will be thrilled with the power in the performance as well as the variety between pieces. It is professional dance brought locally, which provides a great night out!”

Featured dancers include Travis St. Denny, a native of Norwich, who has trained at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, and The Ailey School in Manhattan. He toured with Garth Fagan Dance before returning to pursue his passion for dance with the challenging choreography of The Phoenix Project. Tommy Sutter, from Binghamton, travels from New York City, where he graduated from The Ailey School, and performs with the tap group, Cats Paying Dues. John Michael O’Neill , originally from Binghamton, currently studies at Point Park University in Philadelphia, PA and is on the fly, coming from rehearsals there to perform where his heart is. Kristyn Alexandrea, of Norwich, also travels from The Ailey School, after years under the tutelage of Amber Perkins, as well as studies at The Paul Taylor School and the University of the Arts. Oxford native Jena Dockray, who was featured in “Firebird” at the Elan awards, returns to the company, now a young mother who brings maturity and grace to the stage. Robin Wonka, also from Oxford, comes from the College at Brockport. She recently returned from a semester at the school of Dance at the University of Stavanger, in Norway. Robin is joined by brother John Wonka, an apprentice with the company and sophomore at Brockport. Katie Martinez, also an apprentice, is an accomplished dancer who travels from Miami, Florida, to study and perform with the Perkins siblings. Rounding out the company are Lucas Lyons, of New Berlin, and Lauren King, of Binghamton, young but nationally recognized dancers. In their debut performance with the company, are guest artists Nicole Adjeleian and Katiana Pare, from Ottawa, Ontario, and Jonathan Rodriguez, from Rochester.

Founded in 2004, the company is inspired by the idea of the bird reborn from the ashes of its own demise. The re-invention of one’s self is the driving force behind the Phoenix Project’s artistic vision, and each dance projects power, passion and elegance. Amber and Michael Perkins, of Norwich, are the creative force for the company, which trains in central New York, and is dedicated to keeping the arts alive in rural communities throughout the state and the country. Nationally award winning choreographers, Amber and Mike treasure the lifestyle of their small hometown, and have eschewed big city living to ensure opportunities for aspiring dancers in their own back yard. Bringing their vision and world class artistry to audiences in theaters, like the Palace, fulfills their dream.

No stranger to larger venues, the company has performed at the Thang Dao Contemporary Dance Festival in Manhattan, the Downtown Dance Festival in Battery Park, and in Bavaria, Germany, as part of “New York Feet.” In 2004, Ms. Perkins was awarded the “Spirit of Elan” award for her choreography in the company’s presentation of Firebird. Both Amber and Mike are sought after as teachers of master classes throughout the U.S. and Canada, and members of the company have toured the world with Pilobolus and Garth Fagan Dance, among others. But the joys of living and working in upstate New York, and the unique and powerful style that defines the Phoenix Project keep bringing the dancers back to Norwich.

Phoenix Project Dance is driven to build upon their successful 2012 season, which saw performances in Old Forge, Silver Bay, and Nazareth College, among others. Following a performance at the Downtown Dance Festival in Battery Park in Manhattan, critic Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times, noted the dancers “… lifting, swinging and throwing each other in applause-winning feats…” Definitely not a sedate performance, the Palace Theater hopes you will come and see for yourself what the excitement is about, and support this growing and locally based company. Find out more at

Tickets for Phoenix Project Dance are $15 for youth 17 and under and $20 for adults 18 and older, and are available by calling (315) 824-1420. Seating is general admission and on a first come-first served basis. The house opens at 7:30 p.m. Group rates are available for 20 or more. Reservations are highly recommended. Tickets may also be purchased at the Palace box office (Monday-Friday, 9-4, and two hours prior to each show); payment is accepted by Visa, Mastercard, Colgate Gatecard, cash, or check payable to The Palace Theater. The Palace Theater is located at 19 Utica Street, Hamilton. Please visit to learn more about this and other incredible performances during their sixth season of live entertainment.

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