• 5/24/21

    The Department of Theatre and Dance will present a unique new dance project this spring titled “The Center in Motion: A Virtual Dance Concert,” featuring the talents of 60+ student choreographers, dancers, designers and technicians working in collaboration. The show is co-directed by clinical associate dance professor Kerry Ring, design technology theatre professor Lynne Koscielniak, and adjunct dance instructor and UB alumnus Michael Deeb Weaver.
    The persistence of Covid-19 has led to a unique opportunity to make creative use of multiple spaces within UB Center for the Arts, the department’s usual home venue. Whereas the Center’s Mainstage Theatre, Drama Theatre, and full-length skylight atrium would ordinarily be filled with patrons for live performances, they will now all be used as stages to film a multi-camera dance concert, embracing live streaming to facilitate continued creative output during the pandemic.
    “Due to Covid, multiple spaces which aren’t ordinarily available within the Center have gone unused, so we’re creating art, movement and design at a time when the public isn’t coming to the theatre,” said Ring. “We have a unique opportunity this semester to breathe new life into Center for the Arts, which is always as its most electric when there are dancers in motion within its walls,” added co-director Deeb Weaver.
    A total of 18 designers and technicians will also collaborate on the production, a combination of BFA and BA undergraduate theatre design and technology students, alongside dance and design faculty, plus the professional theatre and video production staff at Center for the Arts.
    From a design and safety perspective, works are being created with strict social distancing foremost in mind. Multiple versions of reconfigurable translucent barrier scenery have been constructed to support artistic visions and individual dance pieces of varying length within the same program. This allows small groups of dancers-no more than four at a time- to be onstage together, while completely separated by the vinyl barriers, which can be shaped and lit theatrically to add interest and dimensionality.
    UB Dance’s academic emphasis on stylistic versatility means the show will offer the usual breadth of dance genres, with works ranging from rhythm tap, to contemporary ballet, modern and vogue. "The most interesting part of choreographing a new work for this concert is seeing how incredibly proficient our dancers have become at learning entire pieces remotely, via Zoom,” said Deeb Weaver. “Their ability to assimilate material under these circumstances is incredible, as is their attention to detail. I am amazed at the way each dancer is still able to showcase their own artistry, even in rehearsal as a square on a monitor!”
    Faculty dance directors Ring and Deeb Weaver will create choreography for the program, along with first year MFA candidate Abby Cass, plus talented undergraduate dance majors, including: Stephanie Avila, Lyssie Hartzog Kyle Kershner, Ava Lovsin, Homeria Lubin, Mandy McLenigan, Ally Mersereau, and Kelsey Sullivan. Under the mentorship of Koscielniak, new set, light, and projection designs are contributed and facilitated by undergraduate theatre design and technology students Eve Brunswick, Molly Crandall, Isabella Fortunato, Francisca Losada Hernandez, Sophie McGuire, Katja Rabus, Timothy Swenson, Nicholas J. Taboni, and Timothy “TJ” Wildow.
  • 5/24/21

    UB Theatre and Dance’s “Shutter Speed: An Evening of Dance on Film” will feature original dance film premieres from a dozen choreographers, comprised of undergraduate students and MFA candidates, plus a new interdisciplinary collaboration with professional choreographer and department chair Anne Burnidge, poet Eli Clare, one of the 2020-21 UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars, Azalia P. Muchransyah, PhD candidate in the Department of Media Study, and a team of undergraduate and graduate dance students.
    More than 60 UB dance majors and MFA candidates will be featured, with pieces ranging from a singular performer, to duets and larger group pieces, in multiple outdoor locations, and with different themes and contexts. Dancers are upholding the highest safety precautions with respect to Covid-19. All dancers must be masked at all times and remain socially distanced.
    The program is under the direction of clinical assistant professor Jenna Del Monte Zavrel, MFA. The student choreographer / filmmakers include: Daniella Bertrand, Anna Caison Boyd, Jacqueline Cherry, Alexis Corletta, Maria Gionis, Melanie Kaisen, Meg Kirchhoff, Homeria Lubin, Karrigan Rotella, and Samantha Schmeer.
    “'Dance on Film’ has been a new genre for a while, but it wasn’t being produced on the same scale as concert dance,” said Zavrel. “Covid has made it more of the default setting (for now), so students are learning the technology and thinking of new ways to share dance. The beautiful thing is you get to see intimate moments and nuances because of the lens that you wouldn’t necessarily see if you were in a proscenium theatre. You get to be with the camera and dancers as they’re moving. I’m thrilled that people are making more work specifically for the camera.”
    The performances will be created via a lab-centered process where the choreographers meet weekly on Zoom to learn camera and editing techniques. Then they will rehearse with the dancers online before filming at each outdoor site. The choreographers must conceptualize and create every aspect of their work, including choreography, costuming, composing shot lists, storyboarding, directing the film, and editing the footage for the final piece which will be live-streamed on the UB Center for the Arts YouTube channel. “The students are wearing all the hats,” added Zavrel. “It’s a heavy lift, plus learning the technology at the same time. And on top of that (it) being winter and during Covid. That just speaks to the ambition of UB Dance students. They want to do it all.”

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