Category: clubs

 

Photo by Victoria Robson

As Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s performers extended their bodies in beautiful shapes at their 2016 Fall Performances, it’s easy to see the elegance, strength, and fluidity ballet dancers are known for.  While students of Columbia University and Barnard College comprise CBC, they proved that dedicating themselves to academia does not make them any less dancers. They commanded the stage at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center on November 18th and 19th with an air of professionalism. Yet they kept a youthful, fresh take on ballet, melding the traditional to modern with impeccable technique and a focus on the articulations in the music to produce more profound pieces. Their fall performances offered six pieces filled edgy and creative choreography.

The opening piece, “Symphony in G,” choreographed by Amy Hall Garner, showcased the lines of the dancers. Dressed in simple black and pancaked skin colored pointe shoes, the dancers played off the the trills and fermatas of Mozart’s music with quick footwork and moments of soaring through the air. Solos and pas de deuxs were precise and outlined each dancer. With Garner’s close attention to the nuances in the music, the piece was as if the music came to life, that the music was made for the dancers. This high energy choreography not only set the scene with beautiful technique, but also the avant garde direction for the rest of the show.

Add a little heavy metal and pure expression of the music and you’ll get “A Single Marble Block,” a fierce student-choreographed piece by Sadi Mosko CC’17 featuring movement in the dancers as well as across the stage. It began with the howling wind paired with shaking motions and isolations from the dancers. She played with the sound and bass of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” as well as light to create an intricate and eccentric piece. Between bursts of light, the dancers reacted to each other as they traveled from corner to corner as a unit, or perhaps as a ‘single block,’ breaking apart at times, offering deep contrast to the unity.

“No Mud No Lotus,” choreographed by Ursula Verduzco, was truly a stunning piece with a beautiful message. It began with a downpour of rain and crashing thunder where in the spotlight, individuals danced against the rain. The sense of conflict depicted from the expressive dancers and the sultry music and thunder fell away as the piece went on. It transitioned into a light and harmonious dance where the performers bourreed and pirouetted with the smooth picks of the guitar that mimicked the sound of rain. Their colorful costumes brought a swirl of hues in the enlivened dance. The piece ended in the same thunderstorm at the beginning, but with the dancer loving the rain this time. A little shift in perspective -no mud no lotus- is sometimes all you need.

Contrasting with the fluidity of the previous piece, Andrew Harper pushed the boundaries in his piece, “Lost in Space.” It was innovative and fun to say the least. Each dancer, dressed in everyday clothes, seemed to resemble us in life. Dancers were plugged into earphones where sometimes their music synced up and other times the individual voices sang out slightly different from the rest. The dancing was more freeform and expressive in individuality. The music, “American Pie,”  and moments of individual expression alludes to the uniqueness of members in a community. They follow their own beat. But, there are also moments where the voices come together to create a powerful unity between the dancers.

“Moonlight & Sonatas,” choreographed by Kevin Jenkins, featured two pairs in an elegant derivation of classical ballet. The dancers built contrast between sharpness during quick movements with smooth slows. With their impeccable technique and partnering, the dancers created an illusion of slipping out of control, only to join into flowing, free releases of tension. They created beautiful imagery and gave attention to even the slightest hand flicks, letting the movement reverberate through the body. In the intimate theater, the audience could hear the breaths of the dancers, confirming the difficulty that they make look easy.

The last piece ended the show with a display of intricate footwork and showed just how incredible the dancers in CBC are. “Us,” choreographed by Miro Magloire, took three of Bach’s preludes and fugues and showcased something different with each: gracefulness and repetition, unity and technique, and quick mirrorings with crisscrossing and weaving movements. They played on shapes, repetition, and footwork, creating a dynamic piece. It’s difficulty was evident yet the dancers were pleasant and never fatigued, always expressing themselvesto the fullest. It perfectly closed the show by leaving the audience wowed.

CBC’s fall performances were refreshing and impressive. Ballet dancers are incredible, and dancers in the Columbia Ballet Collaborative are no exception, as they showcased a new take on the traditional ballet in their stunning fall performances. Take innovative choreographers and strong, graceful dancers, and you’ll create beautiful art.

Haley So is a freshman in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Although a lover of science and math, she can’t live without a little art, ballet, or music.

Photo Courtesy of James Xue (SEAS ’17)

When I first arrived at Columbia, I felt lost in the sea of freshman. NSOP felt overwhelming and overbearing at times. Though it was created  to spur genuine interaction between fellow first-years, in my case it often just produced superficial introductions and goodbyes. Needless to say, I was a tad worried at the prospect of finding those “forever friends.” Perhaps this feeling was compounded by the fact that I live in Wallach, a dorm with first-years as well as upperclassmen, so the majority of my floor had still not yet moved in.

After all the upperclassmen move-in day, however, something changed. The lobby would constantly be filled with people, driven out of their rooms by the September heat and into the floor lounge for AC. Even after the heat subsided, the upperclassmen stayed and just talked about whatever came to mind. As I inserted myself into these conversations, I quickly found some of my first and closest friends at Columbia. There’s Will and Ashu, who are always in the lounge and ready at any given moment to order UberEats. There’s Cindy and Victoria, the reigning Queens of Wallach 4; there’s Ralph, the fixed guest-resident from Wallach 2. There’s Josh, whose ability to make me smile never fades, even after the most stressful days.

As I quickly learned, these people were always happy to lend a helping hand, and whether it was a difficult pset or an emotional breakdown didn’t matter. As juniors and sophomores, they were also able to provide insightful tips and tricks, ranging from warning me about John Jay’s meatless Mondays to telling me how to score some free gear at various events on campus. More than just resources, these people have shaped and defined my experience thus far. I’m only two months in and already eager for the rest of the next four years. My initial tensions and anxieties have all but subsidied; in Josh’s words, I know that “everything will be ooooo-kay.”

It is September 26. The aroma of glazed donuts lingers in the air as students scurry past the sundial, where a neatly clothed table with donuts is set up. Sure, that’s enough to lure Homer (not the philosopher!), but it’s reverberations of ‘it’s for a good cause’ that capture the attention of others. While many decide to flock to the table, enticed by the Krispy Kreme donuts–which are but a delicacy within the Columbia bubble–others are keen to learn how GlobeMed’s mission.

Standing behind the table, I assume the role of a de facto GlobeMed representative, engaging with customers about the modus operandi of the global health organization. The standard interaction lends itself to a description of GlobeMed’s partnership with a grassroots organization in Uganda, vis-à-vis monetary assistance made possible by a host of fundraisers, and hands-on work in the summer. However, it is in conversation with a law professor, and a visiting high-school student that my attention is drawn to the necessity of a paradigm shift from an organization that merely distributes resources to one that actively campaigns for global health advocacy.

This is an important distinction to be made, especially within a capitalist society that prioritizes top-down charitable practices that often do more harm than good by way of paternalism and a lack of nuance—with reference to cultural consciousness– in their implementation. This is where GlobeMed steps in their mission for global inequity. Instead of merely providing monetary assistance to GWED-G, their partner organization in Uganda, it actively listens to the concerns of leaders in the community to empower them to become agents of change. This ensures a healthy power dynamic in which GlobeMed responds to the needs of the community, and models its mission accordingly, rather than setting up a power dynamic where local leaders acquiesce to its set of demands.
The next time you smell donuts near the sundial, make sure you stop by and engage with the people behind the table. You’re sure to learn something new; if not, you can savor a glazed donut ‘for one dollar’!

To submit a piece for publishing on The Lion, email submissions@columbialion.com

Spring has sprung, and with spring comes the Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s Spring Performances. Each of the six pieces added a certain je ne sais quoi that contributed to the show’s cohesiveness as a whole.

“Vanilla Extract” seemed to be comment on how society strives for perfection. The dance opened on a fairly dark stage, with the dancers walking in two circles as if they were the hands of a clock. Then, one by one, the dancers slowly broke off from the line and began to pantomime washing different parts of their bodies. The motifs of straights lines and circles echoed throughout the piece, both in the the dancers’ limbs and movements. The music was static-y and lacked a solid beat, but fit the piece perfectly.

“Ellington Episodes” followed more of a storyline. The music was different  instrumentals of the Duke Ellington’s  works. The first song served to introduce the dancers: three ladies in sparkly, 1920s style dresses, and two guys in suspenders and button downs. In the second song, the boys overtly admire the girls’ beauty and try to catch their attention. At the end, one of the guys ran offstage with two of the girls, leaving the remaining couple for a pas de deux. The duo was slow and sweet, with a soft, slow tune to go along with it. The last piece was an upbeat, thigh slapping, hand clapping celebration, and seemed to showcase more 1920s era pieces. Overall, the each episode showed off the female dancers’ superior pointe technique and male dancers’ strength and stamina.

The next piece, “Nobody Will Miss Us,” was a stark contrast to the previous one, and a personal favorite. This dance also seemed to have episodes within it, but they were less clearly defined. The dance started with a darkened stage and dancers who covered their eyes with their hands. Each dancer wore a light purple dress with a darker purple shift underneath, and they frequently used their dresses as props during the dance. The somber mood of the dance evoked thoughts of a dark harvest dance or an initiation of some sort. The dancers’ movements and the dark stage made them appear positively ghostly.

“Valse Fantasie” was a bright Balanchine piece with lots of jumping and spinning. The dancers’ arm movements were flowy and light, and their long white tutus added to the piece’s breezy vibe.

“Solidarity” was a minimalist piece that featured live piano music. The dancers wore nude colored leotards or shorts. This piece also had a weightlessness to it, but it was more reserved than the previous dance. “Solidarity” featured three solos, two duets, and one trio. Near the end of the dance, the pairings bled into each other and became less distinct. The music was haunting and yearning, and the dance contained much dragging and many complex lifts.

“Before and After” was an upbeat piece that featured many sharp angles and lots of turns. Curiously, though the dancers were en pointe and pointed there feet as required, they flexed their feet often as well. This piece was a bright end to a diverse and captivating show.

 

Photo Courtesy of the Varsity Show

Last night, members of The Lion went to watch the Varsity Show’s 122nd production. We’ve compiled our take as well as comments we collected from students at the performance to help you decide whether you should go watch the show.

Comments from Lion Writers:

Upon entering Roone, we were handed the show’s booklet styled in what appeared to be a Blue and White Magazine. As we perused through the booklet, the show’s creative team divulged detailed interviews of the cast along with a breakdown of the show that hinted the show would be starting fashionably late (16 minutes to be exact) and a whole host of other humorous content. But even though the guide indicated the show would conclude by 10:18PM, it did not end until 10:48. We don’t know what happened there, but we were more than ok with that.

The show was absolutely phenomenal. From start to finish, the show captured the audience’s attention and with a good dose of humor, recanted many of the motifs commonly found in Varsity Show productions. Bar some sound issues with the microphones, it was quite clear how much effort went even into the smaller details of the show. Even when approaching controversial topics, the writers successfully created jokes that poked fun of the issues, but were not controversial to cause backlash or offend students and staff.

It was also nice to see a same-sex relationship featured as a major component the show. As far as we are aware, this is the first instance of this in a Varsity Show production and it was nice to see. The audience felt the same way based off the loud cheers that emanated throughout Roone.

If we had to pose a criticism, we would say the show was a bit too ambitious. In trying to incorporate so many issues into one two and a half hour production, it felt like several details were ignored. For instance, Jenny Park, the protagonist (played by April Cho CC ’17), refers to being a first-generation student, but this plot point is not really fleshed out. In addition, the show clearly tried to update itself to incorporate more topics given the addition of references to the proposed new sculpture set to be installed in front of Butler Library. It would have been nice to see points like these incorporated into the production that were more than just a few comments.

Overall, we would highly recommend going to the show. It was an ambitious production, but it definitely lived up to much of its hype.

Comments from students and alumni:

To better understand student reactions to the production, our team went out and polled students from a variety of academic years and backgrounds about their reactions. Check out what students said below.

“I want someone to look at me the way Professor Wilkenson (Henrietta Steventon) looked at that wine bottle” – SEAS ’17

“Is it bad I could easily imagine Dean Kromm prancing around campus in colonial wear?” – CC ’18

“Lin-Manuel Miranda, you have some competition coming from uptown” – CC ’18

“I actually thought I would die laughing when they all started singing ‘There’s a dead white man inside us all’ ” – CC ’19

“How do these people have the time to write and create an entire musical in a semester? That was phenomenal. I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into making that.” – CC ’17

“I liked the part where George was expelling students and then became ambivalent to the show.” – SEAS ’18

“Who did the reading for today? I’m sorry, I meant, Who wants to talk about the reading we were supposed to do? That’s was too real. Literally what every CC class is like”  – CC ’18

“Their take on campus activism was spot on.” – SEAS ’16

“How does a dead white man get into Pith and I’m still on the damn wait list???” – CC ’18

“I couldn’t stop laughing after Professor Wilkenson (Henrietta Steventon) yelled at Shreyas Manohar’s character to check his privilege after he desperately asked for help” – CC ’19

“I liked the show from two years ago a lot more” – SEAS ’18

The Varsity Show is performing through May 1st with showings at 2PM and 8PM. Be sure to buy a ticket (starting at $7) from the TIC or online here.

Have a comment or response you want to share? Comment below or email us at submissions@columbialion.com.