Burgeoning talent

UB's student dance majors showcase their work and choreography prowess

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Maria Cwiklinski spent 92 days creating her eight-minute-long choreographed dance, collaborating with dancers and a student light designer to create a captivating performance.

The dance incorporated the use of a scarf and clothing to represent the shedding of one’s internal burdens. The dancers began lying on the floor face down. As the spotlight shone on them one by one, they performed interpretative dances that highlighted the abstract fluidity of the routines – capturing the transition of feeling trapped inside oneself to the absolute freedom of being comfortable in one’s own skin.

As the song progressed, the dancers looked at their scarves longingly to suggest the burdens of life. The scarves hung loose around their neck and were incorporated it into the dance sequences that followed. The dancers gradually took their clothes off during the performance, unleashing into a passionate dance routine, highlighting their flexibility and poise.

The Emerging Choreographers Showcase opened Saturday with a large audience at the Katherine Cornell Theatre located in the Ellicott Complex on North Campus. Thursday’s performance was canceled due to weather.

The showcase was a dance concert of choreographed pieces by advanced-level UB student choreographers. The eight choreographers were also in collaboration with a student lighting designer, which allowed the choreographers to build a purely visual experience to accompany their work.

The show consisted of a myriad of dance styles such as lyrical, contemporary, modern and jazz, while the pieces explored themes of fear, isolation, loneliness, our connection to society and even our dependence on technology.

Melanie Aceto, director of the Emerging Choreographers Showcase and assistant professor in UB’s Theatre & Dance department, acknowledged the amount of effort that went along with constructing a show amidst weather conditions.

“Students began working on these pieces in September,” Aceto said. “We have been in theater Sunday through Tuesday working with the lighting designers to light the works.”

Aceto said these hurdles positively influenced the collaborations between the dancers and choreographers.

“The students work very well with one another,” Aceto said. “Making a work of art together, choreographer and dancer, is a rewarding experience. Realizing that work in the context of theater with an audience is a wonderful end to a collaborative process.”

The collaborative process influenced Lisa Kaemmerlen, a senior dance major, in the production of her choreography. She allowed the dancers to give her feedback on whether the movement felt good or if it could be changed. The collaboration inspired her.

Kaemmerlen also used the process to discover something new in her creative methods.

“I discovered that it is so important to listen to the dancers and see how they feel doing the choreography instead of simply telling them exactly what to do,” Kaemmerlen said. “I am grateful that I had such hard-working dancers to work with.”

Many of the dances utilized the entire stage, with dancers moving around and filling the whole stage with the same inspiration and passion of the choreographer.

Some routines used props and clothing to allude to the inspiration behind the piece.

“Denude” Cwiklinkski, a senior dance major, incorporated the use of clothing as dancers progressively removed all of their clothing to convey the “stripping down” of what holds a person back.

“The inspiration behind all choreography comes from life experiences, events that occurred, struggles we endured, moments that have changed us and so on,” Cwiklinkski said. “They inspire us to move and create.”

Cwiklinskki added they choreograph to show their own stories to influence people in a “small way.” They dance to entertain and inspire.

The showcase demonstrated how true of an art form dancing is to those in attendance.

Neha Sharma, a recent UB graduate in psychology, understands the art that goes beyond just dancing.

“We all know that dancing is really passionate and expressive,” Sharma said. “I think [the showcase] really illustrates how difficult it is and how the dancers have to really feel what they’re dancing about, embody it, and then express that.”

email: arts@ubspectrum.com