A UB dance reunion
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
The stage last saw them as eager young students. They returned as dance professionals and brought the experience that led them to success.
At last Saturday’s Back to Buffalo 4, An Alumni Dance Concert, eight former UB graduates returned to their alma mater to showcase their professional talents on Center for the Arts’ stage.
The most thrilling dance of the night belonged to Sarah Jean Kaye in “Bouchee.” Her number began and ended while a hoopsuspended her approximately 3 feet above the stage floor. The audience cheered at her aerial work as she pivoted her body weight on the hoop. She teased the audience by maintaining a smile on her face, as though these feats were no challenge.
She ended her number by dangling dangerously by the arches of her feet with her arms on her waist like a bat.
Performers like Kaye go to great lengths in the name of dance.
“I haven’t worn lotion in four years … I have the legs of an 80-year-old woman and shave 365 [days] a year,” Kaye said.
Katie Heintz’s “Perseverance” was visually intriguing. Her dance consisted of leaping, balancing and, on occasion, tumbling. She had many push and pull movements against the air, presenting an imaginary obstacle she wanted to overcome.
She ended her set with both feet firmly on the stage with one shirt’s strap around her arm – a sign of her struggle.Heintz’s choice of string music was appropriately dramatic in that it complimented the tensions she portrayed while fighting her inner demons. “Perseverance” was received well by the crowd, but she wasn’t the only highly anticipated act.
“The dancer in ‘Perseverance’ was good, but I know my sister is going to be the best one,” said Emily Jacob-Zysman, 32, a UB alumna from Rochester. “My family came in just to see her.”
Her sister, Claire Jacob-Zysman, paired with Sara Senecal to perform “a single dot of light.” They looked like a yin and yang that conspired harmoniously with each other – reflecting each other’s movements and supporting each other.
“They were beautiful and so grounded in their movement … it was very affecting,” said Tamara Hopersberger, 40, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Jacob-Zysman and Senecal ended their piece rolling on the floor in a figurative loop. Alireza Bakhtiar, a senior business administration major, said an image clicked in his mind when he saw Jacob-Zysman and Senecal perform.
“I saw two friends who could support each other in their emotional lives and how that support continues in life,” Bakhtiar said.
The use of props and lighting were essential to the majority of the performances. One performer who used these elements well was Nicole Calabrese.
Calabrese started her dance perched on a chair in the shadowed part of the stage with a waterfall spotlight to the her right. She progressed in fear of the light and tested its boundaries before finally leaping into the lighted circle and embracing the brightness.
Even her breath was in tune with the beat of the music as she blew her tangled hair out of her face.
“It gave me the feeling of someone who wanted to break the rules of her life and enter a new stage,” Bakhtiar said.
Gina Pero used her shimmery costume and a rose to bring out the flirtatiousness of her piece, “Wrapt,”as she danced to a jazzy double bass, saxophone and piano ensemble.
Current dance students also performed “Hearth.” With earth-colored blowy dresses, their movements were very lyrical, and their port de bras were fluid. The dancers resembled birds of a flock dancing together.
This graceful harmony was only interrupted when the dancers’ claps were not in-sync. But they were quick to recover, just like birds do when one flies out of formation.
“It made you feel like you just wanted to get up and dance with them. They made it seem so easy,” said Michelle Ballaro, a UB graduate and retired dance teacher. “It’s very nice to see people from Buffalo do very well in their chosen profession; their personalities really shine through their pieces.”
That night, the dance profession did not look as risky as some current dance students feel.
When asked how she knew dance was the right path for her, Pero replied while pointing to her heart:
“It’s this. It’s here,” Pero said.