Zodiaque prepares for ‘versatile’ fall performances

Dance students discuss upcoming weekend of performance


Versatility matters.

 Zodiaque Dance Company’s artistic director Kerry Ring knows this. And she wants her students to know, too.

 Zodiaque, the long-running and highly praised on-campus dance company made up of 25 dance majors, is hosting its fall performance on the Center for the Arts Drama Stage from Thursday to Sunday. The company is known for its stylistic versatility and Ring wants the phrase “versatility matters” to be the main focus in every Zodiaque performance, every year.

Its 46th season is no different. 

During the “fall performance,” which will cost $10 for students to attend, according to Eventbrite, Zodiaque will showcase a variety of dance styles, which members have practiced for weeks on end to execute, including jazz, ballet, modern and even one performance that isn’t live on stage.

 “My role is to bring versatile styles to the stage and therefore, the dancers are practicing those different styles,” Ring said. “I also try to bring that sense of versatility to the audience so that the audience is sort of exercising their awareness of all the different things dance can be.”

For some dances in the performance, dancers can spend 15 to 20 hours rehearsing in a weekend, Ring says. Other rehearsals span three to four weeks, comprising of a few hours each session with some days off. 

 Zodiaque hopes to push the traditional view of dance this weekend, with one performance projected on film, rather than live on stage. 

 Students worked with MFA student Mary Schnepf as she choreographed a filmed dance. This onstage film will explore how different angles and editing connect with the dancers’ movements.

 Zodiaque also worked with Los Angeles-based dance company Entity Contemporary Dance to learn a contemporary style of dance popular in LA for this weekend’s performance. Entity, which members founded in 2009 to “forge connections between the Southern California hip-hop and contemporary dance communities,” is an award-winning company with three evening-length works, according to its website.

 Kennedy Jordan, a senior dance major, is excited for the opportunity to work with Entity.

 “This is the first time [Entity] is setting their work on other people. So we are like the guinea pigs of this,” Jordan said. “It’s been an amazing process like the movement style’s amazing.”

 Zodiaque dancers have also been working on tap, jazz, contemporary ballet and modern styles for the performance. They will perform a piece by professor Thomas Ralabate, fusing the Brazilian-style martial art dance, Capoeira, with salsa.

 Maria Gionis, a sophomore dance major, believes these versatile styles help with her dance training.

“It’s nice to be able to learn and train in those specific [styles], even if it’s not particularly your strength,” Gionis said. “Also, there are a lot more styles in the show like tap and jazz. … So I think everyone gets a little taste of versatility.”

Ring hopes students not involved in the arts take advantage of seeing high-quality dance on campus from Thursday to Sunday. She also hopes students not familiar with watching dance take the opportunity to see it on stage.

“There’s just a lot of advantages to opening yourself up to any kind of art,” Ring said. “And it may speak to somebody that they didn’t even know it could speak to.”

Julianna Tracey is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Julianna.Tracey@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @JTraceySpec. 


 Julianna Tracey is a freshman music theater and history double major. She’s excited to explore all that the Buffalo arts scene has to offer.