Since the start of the semester, the Zodiaque Dance Company has been practicing relentlessly to become as professional as possible.
Throughout this weekend, it will put its hard work on display for the fall concert, "The 37th Season," at the Center for the Arts.
This year features pieces choreographed by Ashley Currey, Tressa Gorman Crehan, Michael Hitzel, Matt Pardo and Kerry Ring. Students of UB's dance program audition for membership in the troupe. Those accepted take classes together as a company and work with respected choreographers in a variety of dance styles, including modern, jazz, tap and hip hop.
"The Zodiaque Dance Company offers the pre-professional dancer an invaluable opportunity to train with many different choreographers, both faculty and guest, that each have something very different to offer," said Elliott Keller, a senior dance major and Zodiaque Dance Company member. "My three years with the company [have] opened my eyes to see many possibilities for movement, choreography and style."
Zodiaque members have been preparing for these performances since the beginning of the semester.
"We really try to be as close to a professional company as we can," said Colleen Morris, a senior dance major and Zodiaque member. "We rehearse every weekend all semester and put our heart and soul into it."
Morris is most excited to perform "And When I Turned Around (I Was Gone)," choreographed by Gorman Crehan, managing director of Zodiaque.
"It's my favorite piece because it's about not being noticed in a crowd and not getting the appreciation you deserve," Morris said. "The piece has some very cool lighting effects with single light bulbs hanging on the stage that highlight each individual dancer and show her disconnect from the group."
Angela Siler, a junior dance major and Zodiaque member, spoke of "And When I Turned Around (I Was Gone)" from the dancer's perspective.
"The movement feels so natural. It's gritty and beautiful all at once," Siler said. "Performing it gets very personal, and I think the audience can sense that."
Carie Jurcak, a senior dance major, will be performing in three pieces, "Dancing with the Monster," choreographed by Michael Hitzel, "Iambus," choreographed by John Lehrer, and "And When I Turned Around (I Was Gone)." Jurack enjoys the diversity among her pieces.
"I like John Lehrer's [piece] because it's extremely athletic and has high energy. I like Tressa's because it has a whole different feeling; it's very elegant and sort of dark in a way… it's nice to have different contrasts [between pieces]," Jurcak said.
Friday evening's performance will also have a fundraiser basket raffle. The proceeds will help send Zodiaque dancers to the American College Dance Festival (ACDFA). The ACDFA holds regional conferences providing university dance departments the opportunity to participate in performances, workshops and master classes. Participants also have the opportunity to be judged by nationally recognized dance professionals.
For Morris, nothing compares with how she feels on stage.
"It takes you out of your everyday worries and anxieties. You're so in the moment expressing yourself…there's a feeling of adrenaline," Morris said. "When you're on stage in costume it's almost like you're in another world. It's exhilarating."
Performances are held tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $10 for students and can be purchased at the CFA box office and at Ticketmaster.com.