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.