Zodiaque dances into 2019 season

Director Kerry Ring envisions growth for dance company

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Raising the bar is nothing new for director Kerry Ring.

And she expects the same from her dancers every year.

Zodiaque Dance Company celebrated its 45th season in the fall with “Celebration 45.” “Zodiaque Dances On” is the latest showing for the esteemed dance company, and features a mix of both revisited works from the fall and new pieces. The company incorporates jazz, hip-hop and variations of modern dance and continues to push the mantra “versatility matters.”

“I’m very proud of the dancers that I’m working with … in their ability to not only physicalize these different movement vocabularies, but they [also] really appreciate all the different ways these choreographers present things,” Ring said.

But change comes with every new season.

“In the spring we sort of pivot toward the future and kind of envision where Zodiaque is going to go” Ring said. 

Zodiaque, through a grant from UB’s creative art initiative, features choreography by Kimberly Bartosik. Bartosik has been performing since 1996, originally under the name “daela.” Her work has been featured in events like the American Dance Festival in 2017 and New York Live Arts. Bartosik has worked with numerous colleges and universities across the country, including the University of South Carolina’s School for the Arts and at Princeton as a guest artist and faculty member.

“This was a new process for us,” Ring said. “She was able to work with nine students intensely for a week … [her work] really pushes physicality, and those dancers were really driven to new levels of exhaustion.” 

Jenna Del Monte, Zodiaque choreographer and co-director, said that the spring show should bring an array of vivid performances, while also pushing Zodiaque dancers to look toward a career after UB.

“Kerry and I both curate a show that hosts chorographers with dynamic dance backgrounds and casts dancers in the choreographic proceses that would best serve their education and future careers,” Del Monte said. “We hope to give them the tools they need to enter the professional world with many performance options.”

Ring said while new additions to faculty are welcome, remaining in touch with alumni in the dance community is always a priority. Works by graduates like 2007 alum Richard Ashworth consistently make their way into Zodiaque performances and often give inspiration for new works.

“Our alums are growing and active artists in the field,” Ring said. “What they’re doing is so fresh and innovative in their process [that] it’s good for us to [make use] of our resources.”

Ring said she sees her dancers consistently improve in both concentration and hard work.

“This process works. They become better dancers and more committed artists,” Ring said. “Their mindset is really open. They take it on seriously.”

Del Monte described the rehearsal proccess as an “accelerated” one, and sees the spring show as furthering the groundwork that “Celebration 45” laid in the fall.

“The dancers learn multiple works at once and have to be performance ready in a matter of weeks,” Del Monte said. “Their professionalism really shines in moments like this and I am honored to help facilitate such a strong show.”

Zodiaque will perform “Zodiaque Dances On” beginning on March 7 and runs through March 10 at the Center for the Arts. 

“The dancers seamlessly move in and out of these genres [so] that you hardly feel like you’re watching the same dancers in several pieces,” Del Monte said. “Zodiaque is truly a collaboration of skill sets in the department.”

Ring said she hopes the audience can recognize Zodiaque’s hard work and thinks newcomers will find something to enjoy.

“I just love showcasing what we’re doing here,” Ring said. “I take great pride in having somebody new come to see the show and be wowed by the level of dancing and the level of dance making that we have here.”

Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.evans@ubspectrum.com and @BrianEvansSpec.