Arts Features

His work has been described as “unfailingly original.” His dancers have been called “fearless.” He has been given the title “creative genius.” And according to the Los Angeles Times if there’s such a place as dance heaven, Garth Fagan Dance knows how to get there. After 46 years of running a Rochester-based dance company, and 25 years of operating a Western New York dance school, the master-mind behind the world-renowned Garth Fagan Dance continues to create and inspire. Tony-Award winning choreographer Garth Fagan joins this edition of Need to Know to talk life, dance and a special “first look” event for Rochester audiences.

Carlos Ortiz

Have you ever wondered how certain movies have the ability to make you laugh or cry uncontrollably? How they can heal, inspire, and even anger and scare you? And how do movies catch the eye of that super selective group known as “The Academy” which highlights the best in film? After spending decades screening movies and sharing his thoughts and opinions on Hollywood films it’s a safe bet that semi-retired film critic, Jack Garner, knows what makes a movie work and what doesn’t. He joins this edition of Need to Know to talk about the power of film, his all-time favorite movies, and what he’s most looking forward to viewing before the holidays.

Arleen Thaler

Prostitutes, migrant workers and the homeless. Some of the most vulnerable and neglected people in our region, have found an ally and a friend in Rochester photographer Arleen Thaler. Armed with her favorite camera, which she requested from her husband rather than a wedding ring, she documents the lives of those often overlooked and misunderstood. As we’ll learn in this Need to Know story, this labor of love project isn’t about the photographer, but about getting a community to confront injustices in plain sight.

Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People

It’s a rather simple equation.  Soul + Groove = Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People. The local group has performed throughout Europe and around the US winning over audiences and the “Best Local Band” award from the 2015 Roc Awards.

But the meaning behind the songs written by Rochester native and vocalist for the band, Danielle Ponder, are anything but simple and surface-level. It was the online music source SoulSource that called Ponder’s vocals a combination of “the spirit of the church with the speak-truth-to-power assertiveness of a movement leader.”

On this segment of Need to Know Danielle Ponder shares more about her story, her band and the influence of her work as a public defender on her music.


On some level, all art is impermanent; materials break down, paint chips away and canvases tear. But that's not usually on the forefront of the mind of the average artist. 

Nate Hodge is different. The process he takes in painting is one of embracing change. Watch this Need to Know interview with artist, Nate Hodge and M.A.G. Director, Jonathan Binstock. 

The barriers are immense when it comes to individuals with disabilities seeking employment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17% of people with a disability were employed in 2014. That’s compared to nearly 65% of individuals without a disability. One of those barriers to the labor force is a lack of certain educational skills. Tied to that, for some, is a lack of literacy training. But a Monroe County book club connected to a national book club movement, is not only tearing down some of these barriers, but also breaking stereotypes and building a sense of community for adults with developmental disabilities.