Campus News

Concert showcases Aceto, Zodiaque Dance Company

Melanie Aceto performing a dance.

UB faculty member Melanie Aceto will perform in dance concerts April 5 and 6 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Photo: Paul Hokanson


Published April 1, 2019

headshot of Melanie Aceto.

Photo: Paul Hokanson

“Sometimes, I will have the music at the very beginning of the process of making a piece, and the music will tell my body what to do, as well as serve to shape the piece in parallel with the shape of the music. ”
Melanie Aceto, associate professor
Department of Theatre and Dance

For UB faculty member Melanie Aceto, the process of creating a dance is a fluid one.

“Sometimes, I will have the music at the very beginning of the process of making a piece, and the music will tell my body what to do, as well as serve to shape the piece in parallel with the shape of the music,” says Aceto, associate professor of dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance, describing the process for her solo dance “Dancer Mad,” which she will perform this weekend at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

“Just as often, I will begin with a movement idea that will drive the piece, and the music will come in at the very end, as in ‘Fiefdom’ and ‘Tranquil Unrest.’”

Another piece that will be performed at the concert, a solo danced to music by Klezmer Kaos, “began with the movement idea of remaining on the floor, and was developed and shaped by the music.”

Aceto’s varying methods of making a dance will be showcased at the concert, “Made of Motion: Melanie Aceto Contemporary Dance,” which will take place at 7:30 p.m. April 5 and at 2 p.m. April 6 at the BPAC on the SUNY Buffalo State campus. Joining Aceto for two pieces will be students from UB’s Zodiaque Dance Company, for which Aceto often choreographs.

The dance concert will feature the music of Brahms, Irish contemporary composer Emma O’Halloran, and Buffalo composer and musician John Smigielski, as well as that of Kaos, a classical music band from Iceland.

And a breath score.

When asked to define the term, Aceto offers a description of “Vent,” the piece with a breath score that she will perform at the BPAC concert: “Vent is an exploration of our vulnerable and expressive relationship with breath. Using consonant sounds, Melanie uses breath as propulsion and restriction, creating a score that both accompanies and drives her movement.”

“Vent is a solo piece where my movements are accompanied by — catalyzed by, really — the air sounds that I am making,” Aceto tells UBNow. “It was inspired by a duet piece I made in collaboration with Turkish vocalist Esin Gunduz a few years ago.”

Other works to be performed are “Fiefdom,” which Aceto has expanded from a solo into a group piece that will feature Zodiaque dancers, as well as live accompaniment by percussionist Smigielski; “Tranquil Unrest,” a recent work that will also be performed by the UB dancers; and Aceto’s family’s favorite piece, “Dancer Mad,” a light-hearted, comical music visualization that Aceto created in 2003.

The concert also will feature the premiere of a dance film Aceto made in collaboration with filmmaker Kalpana Subramanian, a PhD candidate in the UB Department of Media Study.

“I’m excited to have worked with Subramanian in the creation of my first dance-for-camera,” Aceto says. “I hope to continue to explore choreography for film. The camera allows you to see things that the proscenium stage does not, and editing software allows you to do things that live choreography does not.”

Although the concert is largely a solo show, Aceto says she had the UB dancers join her for the concert because “choreographically, I think in terms of the solo body and large groups — both ends of the spectrum. I don’t have many ideas for trios or quartets.

“Working at UB allows me the luxury to work with a large quantity of dancers, so I wanted to share my most recent large group piece at the Burchfield Penney,” she says. “Because the BP stage is so small (for concert dance), the version I am showing is smaller than the 16-person piece I premiered at UB in March. I’ll see how many of the dancers I can fit on that BP stage!

Tickets for “Made of Motion: Melanie Aceto Contemporary Dance” are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and BPAC members. Advance tickets can be purchased online or by calling 716-878-6011.