First Friday Lancaster performance by MM2 Modern Dance honors local cancer survivor

On Friday, August 5th at 7:00pm, as part of First Friday Lancaster, MM2 Modern Dance Company will be offering up a special benefit presentation of their new work, ONE WORD at the Mulberry Arts Studios, 19-21 North Mulberry Street, Lancaster. While the dance company is based out of Philadelphia, several of its members are from the Lancaster region. In particular, dancer and choreographer, Stephanie King wanted to use this performance as a means of honoring her grandmother, while calling awareness to a rare and often aggressive form of cancer known as peritoneal cancer. Peritoneal cancer develops in the peritoneum, a thin, delicate sheet that lines the inside wall of the abdomen.

With the creation of ONE WORD, each of the eight company members has choreographed pieces based on a single word.  The words selected have personal significance to each of them and offers a means, through movement, to share their stories with the audience. Stephanie chose the word “resilient”.  She goes on to explain, “Resilient was created in honor of Mary Ann Bender, my grandmother, friend, and hero. If there is such a thing as developing a resiliency to a disease, she has it. She is fighter and survivor. Her physical and mental strength is inconceivable to me.” Stephanie continues, “The piece is intended to convey the physical toll that the chemotherapy drugs,  Erbitux, Xeloda, Eloxatin(Oxaliplatin), and Camptosar  had on her body,  as well as the personal and spiritual growth she has gained on her journey. This woman, my Nana, has a permanent resilience to a severe disease. I believe she is resilient because there is nothing she can’t handle.”

At the same time that Stephanie was developing her piece, the company’s Artistic Director, Steven Weisz, found himself caring for his eighty-two year old mother, who is currently undergoing treatment for a related form of peritoneal cancer.  Weisz, realizing the need for a wider awareness about this form of cancer, contacted April M. Koppenhaver, owner of Mulberry Arts Studio, who generously and without hesitation donated her space for the upcoming First Friday performance.

The performance of ONE WORD is free to the public, but donations will be collected on site for the Dr. Armando Sardi Research Fund.  Dr. Sardi is the Director of The Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Hospital, which specializes in research and treatment of intra-abdominal malignancies.  Stephanie credits Dr. Sardi for the survival of her grandmother, who was diagnosed back in July 2007, over four years ago.

This will be the first time that Stephanie’s grandmother will get to see her perform with MM2 Modern Dance.  For Stephanie, “presenting this piece in honor of my Nana means I get the chance to reach other people’s lives who can relate. If one person in the audience is influenced by this piece, that’s one more life touched and encouraged by her story.”

About MM2 Modern Dance
MM2’s mission is to provide emerging dancers with the opportunity to perform in professional venues as well as create choreography, utilizing contemporary movement, that connects both dancer and audience in a meaningful, relevant experience. MM2 creates dance works for the stage, outdoor landscapes and arts related venues, offering free or subsidized programs in order to make dance more accessible to the public. As a company, we believe that dance is a shared experience, through which we can better understand our common humanity by appreciating and exploring the different inflections of this art form.

2011 Season Dancers & Choreographers
Jessica Bryan, Katleyn Capato, Jenna Faye Eugenides, Heather Fleischman, Kaylee Goodwin, Shara Harad, Stephanie King and Brianne Scott with a Special Guest appearance by Michael Nguyen. Original music composed and performed by Daniel Ison.

Company: MM2 Modern Dance Company
Event: Lancaster Arts First Friday
Benefit performance to raise awareness about peritoneal cancer.
Date: Friday, August 5, 2011
Times: 7:00-8:00 pm – one show only
Venue: Mulberry Arts Studios, 19-21 North Mulberry Street, Lancaster, PA
Admission: FREE, donations being collected for cancer research