Dancer’s Workshop prepares for upcoming spring performance

DW knows how hold its own with collaboration for the students, by the students


Staying modern in dance is an uphill battle – new forms, styles and routines are always being created. This is why the Dancer’s Workshop holds a student-run and choreographed performance every year – to help students gain real world experience in the dance industry.

Dancer’s Workshop: The Box “Remixed” is a long running tradition through the University at Buffalo Dance department. This show is unique because unlike Zodiaque Dance Company and Zodiaque Dance Ensemble, these pieces are choreographed by the students and for the students.

In 1977, dance majors, Joyce-Miller Lichtenberger and Shelley Hain, brought this concept to life. Speed up to present day and they are both currently professors in the UB Theatre and Dance department. Things have come circle for two women who watched their idea’s beginnings, but also have seen their idea grow into a tradition that continues on far past their graduation from the university.

Shows such as ZDC and ZDE usually have about ten pieces, but DW will have 23. The style ranges from ballet, tap, jazz, modern, swing and hip-hop.

BFA senior dance major, Talia Putrino, is also the senior director of DW. She explains why this dance opportunity is so different from the rest.

“DW does not put any restrictions on the choreographers, and gives them the freedom to create whatever they wish, to whatever music they wish,” she said.

While envisioning a piece is one thing, it is more difficult to compose.

“The dancers and choreographers have had only four weeks to rehearse and put their pieces together,” she said. “This is a very quick time period and I'm so proud of how efficiently they have all been working!”

Putrino only choreographed the finale/bows with BFA junior dance student Haley Bjorn.

Bjorn is a dancer in the show as well as the junior director of DW. She has seen both sides of the spectrum as both a dancer and choreographer.

“Last year I served as a choreographer, and since then I've directed my attention to this side of the creative process,” she said. “As a dancer in this show, I've been able to learn from my peers and play a role in making their first choreographic/DW experiences as successful as possible.”

These two ladies have helped DW to continue on since its inception 39 years ago as well as giving others a chance to perform.

So, why should people come see it?

Jessica Caraciolo, a sophomore dance and mathematics major, said the opportunity to showcase each individual’s talent is what makes it special.

“There is something for everyone,” she said. “There is so much talent in this department and having an audience makes the show 100% better because you can feel the energy.”

Chase Brooks, a senior theatre design and tech major is choreographing a duet.

“This is where the community can discover new and hidden talents, but it moreover demonstrates how well the student body of the UBTHD is able to function on its own,” he said.

The cast and crew of Dancer’s Workshop are ready for a large audience.

While Putrino knows that DW was “a great way to ends her senior year,” it is also one last performance the faculty and peers can see before the semester ends.

Dancer’s Workshop is May 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Katharine Cornell Theatre, which is located in the Ellicott Complex.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults. General Admission tickets will be sold at the door.

Francesca Harvey is a contributing writer and can be reached at