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Arts Beat

Dances of spring, stoicism and wizards on screen

The dancers of the University at Buffalo's Zodiaque Dance Company celebrate their 46th anniversary with a lavish spring program of pieces created specifically for them by guest choreographers. Performances will be in the Drama Theatre of the UB Center for the Arts on the North Campus at 7:30 p.m. March 5, 6 and 7 and at 2 p.m. March 8.

Several professional choreographers worked with Zodiaque's artistic director, Kerry Ring, and managing director Jenna del Monte to devise the eclectic production. Guy Thorne, a principal dancer with Garth Fagan Dance and co-founder of Rochester's FuturPointe Dance, came up with a dance mixing African and contemporary styles. Paula Peters, an assistant professor of dance at SUNY Fredonia, contributed a modern dance piece, and Robin Hibbert, a former student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and Dance Theatre of Harlem, based her piece on South African gumboot dance – a dance form inspired by mine workers who passed time challenging one another to dance while wearing their Wellingtons.

Also providing dance works are Chicago-based Richard Ashworth, a UB alumnus, who created a hip-hop piece, and the Theatre and Dance Department's artists-in-residence, Entity Contemporary Dance of Los Angeles. Ring collaborated with Buffalo composer Kevin McFadden for one piece, and rounding out the choreographers are Melanie George, who will be a one-week resident guest artist this semester, and Michael Bagne, a graduate student in the UB Arts Management Program.

Tickets are $20; $10 for students and seniors, at ubcfa.org or at the CFA box office.

Apocalypse when?  

While many local theater companies are opening new shows next week (New Phoenix, Road Less Traveled, Irish Classical, Kavinoky), the Alleyway Theatre is already into its second round of shows this year. Along with the world premiere of "Scotch & Madness" – playing on the main stage through March 14 – the venue is hosting "The End Amen" in the Alleyway Cabaret. The production, which opened Feb. 21, is from the Playwrights Circle and comprises four stories about the end of the world.

Bob Van Valin directs short, interconnected pieces by Mark Lloyd, Bella Poynton, J. Snodgrass and Winifred Storms in what is described as "an action-packed evening of laughs, scares, love and fantasy." Performances continue at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 4 p.m. Sundays through March 8 at 672 Main St. Tickets are an affordable $10 at alleyway.com.

'Chamber' Potter and more from BPO

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is packing up its instruments and heading across town to Shea's Buffalo Theatre for two performances of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The orchestra will perform John Williams' memorable score while the film is shown in its entirety. This second installment in the magical series follows Harry and his friends through a particularly creepy second year at Hogwarts, with giant spiders and even bigger snakes in supporting roles. Shows are at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 and 2 p.m. Feb. 29 at Shea's (646 Main St.). Tickets start at $49.50 (sheas.org or save service fees by stopping in at the box office).

A piano master and the BPO

Later, the BPO welcomes a different kind of magician in Polish piano wizard Konrad Skolarski, who is performing three concerts and a master class. At 7 p.m. March 4 in Kleinhans Music Hall, he will perform a recital of Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique" before a full program of works by Chopin. Tickets are $25; $10 for students, and the event is general admission.

On March 5, Skolarski and BPO musicians will present a master class with local students in front of an audience. Admission is free; seats can be reserved at bpo.org.

Then, Skolarski will perform the great "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff under the direction of JoAnn Falletta at 8 p.m. March 7 and 2:30 p.m. March 8. Tickets are $29 to $94. Visit bpo.org.

Chamber Society welcomes Schumann Quartet

The Buffalo Chamber Music Society is hosting a concert by the Schumann Quartet, made up of three brothers Schumann – Erik and Ken on violin and Mark on cello – plus violist Liisa Randalu at 8 p.m. March 3 in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. Tickets are $30; free for students, available through bflochambermusic.org.

The German quartet has made international waves with its exploratory and energetic style. Its members say in a press release, "A work really develops only in a live performance. That is the 'real thing,' because we ourselves never know what will happen. On the stage, all imitation disappears and you automatically become honest with yourself."

The group will be performing quartets by Mozart, Debussy and Mendelssohn.

Let's talk about it at Hallwalls

Among the interesting lectures and discussions on the horizon is the Scholars@Hallwalls program with Neil Coffee. The series, presented by the University at Buffalo Humanities Institute and Hallwalls, is a public forum where UB faculty members can bring their research to the community. Coffee will talk about the freedom we now have to live "remote" lives, interacting for work and even maintaining personal relationships from the distance that going digital allows. Professor Coffee has found that this most modern of lifestyles has parallels in the ancient world, where philosophers valued both social commitment and the opportunity to disengage for personal growth.

The lecture will focus on the philosophy of the Stoics, who taught self-control in an unpredictable world, rather than asceticism, which means those who attend the free event are also free to enjoy the complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres. The program provides an early start to the weekend, beginning at 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at Hallwalls (341 Delaware Ave.).

While there, guests also have one last chance to see two Hallwalls exhibits that close that day: Sarah Sutton's "Knots and Pulses," a series of monochromatic oil paintings the experiment with the idea of landscapes, and Katie Bell's site-specific show, "Abstract Cabinet," in which Bell has created a "one-act drama" using various objects around the space to build a theatrical set.

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