This weekend, 24 dancers showcased their technique, poise, musicality, and athleticism for the UB Zodiaque Dance Company's "37th Season."
Zodiaque, which consists of upper-class dance majors and some exceptional sophomores, assembles a fall and a spring performance each year.
This year, the dance department faculty worked with guest choreographers to create a wide variety of pieces. Although no particular common theme linked one piece to the next, the exploration of space, various mediums, and human emotion kept the audience focused.
Kerry Ring choreographed the opening piece, "Drop, Post and Beam,"which featured six dancers placed at different levels around a ballet barre.
Seeking to re-invent the way a ballet barre can be used, Ring had the dancers jump, perform handstands, and create unique formations above the four-foot iron structure. Dancers filled the negative space around the barre, creating the appearance of rounder shapes and appealing patterns.
"[Ring] used the barre to create an ambiance that you would never think a barre could create," said Tiffini DeNinis, a senior dance major.
Brittany Sprung, a senior dance major, climbed uphill as one end of the barre was raised off of the floor by the male dancers. Zosha Giacomara, a junior dance major, stood on top of the barre with her legs split 180 degrees apart.
"I really enjoyed [Ring's] piece, [‘Drop, Post and Beam']. It was a great way to open the show," said Joseph Thomas, a senior biomedical sciences major. "I loved how the dancers were so committed to the piece that it made the barre look like not a prop at all, but like another dancer – almost a living part of the piece."
Tressa Gorman Crehan's piece, "And When I Turned Around (I was Gone),"explored the sense of the individual by incorporating many of the dancers' own movements into the number. Each dancer had approximately 30 seconds to create a movement that related to the fear of disappearance.
"I always like to work with things that the dancers bring in," Crehan said. "I was the overseer. They made it easy for me. It was superb."
A single lightbulb hung above each of the nine female dancers, which illuminated each during their short, gestural, intimate solos. Although the focal point was the dancer beneath her lightbulb, the stage was dimly lit so the audience could see the other dancers' shadows residually moving in the background.
"The integration of lightbulbs added an emotional level to the piece. It was as if they were filling a void," said Kerri Leonard, a senior dance major.
Students of many academic disciplines appeared to appreciate Crehan's efforts.
"The lighting caused you to focus on different areas of the stage," said Adam Korus, a junior biomedical sciences major. "You could focus on the dancer under the light or the dancers in the background while watching two very contrasting styles of dance."
Elliot Keller, a senior dance major, offered a dancer's point of view on the piece.
"[Crehan's] piece blended contemporary movement with classical modern movement," Keller said. "The design elements, including the costumes, lighting concept, and music, enhanced the overall experience."
John Lehrer's "Iambus" and Matt Pardo's "This is Why" also exhibited the intensity and athleticism of the cast.
In "Iambus," six female dancers flipped Angela Siler, a junior dance major, above their heads while she performed a back layout with her legs split in the air. The dancers, dressed in bright green and blue long-sleeve body suits, glided across the stage, jumping in double attitude with their backs arched.
During "This is Why," five male dancers lifted five female dancers and tilted them into second positions. The lighting complemented the dancers' movements, amplifying the mood set by the see-through black mesh shirts and tight black shorts.
"The pieces in the show this year were all well-made and well-executed," Siler said
There were high expectations for this semester's performance, but the skills and variety of "37th Season" made this show even more enticing than the last.