Category: clubs

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.

Photo Courtesy Columbia Divest for Climate Change

For nearly 96 hours, students representing Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) have been occupying Low Library. Our message is simple: we will not leave until President Bollinger publicly recommends divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies to the Board of Trustees. While CDCJ has been careful to broadcast our ask and our campaign as far as we can, we think it’s important to explain why exactly we’re doing this.

First, why divestment? It is immoral for Columbia to be actively invested in, and profiting off of, the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry. Science shows that 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground in order to prevent the climate chaos that would wreak havoc on vulnerable communities around the world, but this can’t happen when the top 200 fossil fuel companies spent over $600 billion on exploring new reserves in 2012 alone. Fossil fuel companies are morally bankrupt–some, like Exxon, have been directly tied to climate change denialism and the discrediting of climate scientists, while others contribute millions to lawmakers to obstruct meaningful policy on climate action. Divestment is our way of taking a stand to revoke the social and political license of these companies, so that they can no longer interfere with our transition to a low-carbon, non-extractive economy. Divestment is our way of taking a stand for a safer and more just world.

Okay–but why now? CDCJ has been engaging the campus community and administration for three and a half years now. We’ve had countless meetings with President Bollinger, the Board of Trustees, and the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI). Bollinger has indicated to us privately that divestment wouldn’t hurt the endowment, and that divestment make sense when companies are engaged in highly immoral activities. What’s more, campus consensus is clear on divestment: we have over 2,000 petition signatures, 350 faculty endorsements, and a referendum reflecting support from 74% of Columbia College and SEAS students to prove it. So why haven’t we acted? Publicly, Bollinger has remained silent about divestment, and all that the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing has achieved has been a formal rejection of our divestment proposal and a recommendation that Columbia create yet another committee to deliberate on university responses to climate change. As President and a Trustee, Bollinger has the power to prioritize divestment, and we demand that he does so by standing against the destructive practices of the fossil fuel industry.

Through this civil disobedience, we are telling him that time has run out for the University to make this decision. We are not willing to wait any longer when climate justice, the well-being of future generations, and the well-being of communities around the world are at stake.

Nikita Perumal is a senior in the School of General Studies studying Human Rights and was a participant in the occupation of Low Library. Due to personal commitments, she had to voluntarily choose to leave the occupation. More information on this can be found here.

To respond to this piece, email submissions@columbialion.com

This week, ColorCode was pleased to learn that Professor Kale revoked the Robocop competition and issued a full apology for the original assignment, which, as he writes, “failed to provide adequate context” for a data set laden with historical and political racial trauma. We appreciate Professor Kale’s explanation of the assignment’s intended impact––to lead students to interrogate the policy implications of ML classifiers trained on racist data––and hope that future assignments can convey this lesson with the clarity that this assignment lacked. We sincerely applaud Professor Kale’s timely and appropriate correction, and hope that all professors at Columbia can follow his example in responding to student concerns with empathy and accountability.

 

Since our last statement, some of our peers have questioned whether the assignment’s revocation has deprived the class of an ethics lesson in handling politically challenging data sets. Lessons should not come at the cost of direct harm to the most marginalized groups involved. While we agree with Professor Kale’s professed intentions in assigning the Robocop competition, we stand by our original assessment (with which Professor Kale himself has agreed): that the assignment in its original form could not have produced the intended pedagogical outcome and discussion on data responsibility in Machine Learning. And while this particular incident has been sufficiently redressed by Professor Kale himself, we think it’s important to locate the Robocop assignment in the context of a larger department and school that excludes and silences Black students and students of color. We are studying computer science in a department with few Black students and no Black faculty, in an engineering school that builds on a legacy of close collaboration with the U.S. military and NYPD, at a university that is gentrifying Harlem to build its newest science center. From casual remarks about our intelligence by classmates, TAs, and professors, to academic policies not intended to help the most marginalized of us succeed– these experiences contribute to an academic atmosphere that repeatedly dismisses and delegitimizes our pain by “intellectualizing” academic work with horrific, racist implications and impacts. Computer Science at Columbia is steeped in a history of racism that still persists today. Within this context, an assignment “welcoming” students to a “future” of “cyborg law enforcers” trained on racist, violently-collected data is inexcusable.

 

We therefore point to the Robocop incident as evidence that massive reform is needed within the department to support Black students and other students of color, low income students, and other marginalized people in STEM. Professor Kale’s swift response gives us a lot of hope that change can happen here at Columbia. We will continue to hold professors, departments, and the university accountable to the impact of their academic work. We join Mobilized African Diaspora in demanding greater academic support for marginalized students of color, especially the hiring of Black faculty in Computer Science and SEAS. We also ask that SEAS as a whole reaffirm its commitment to its most marginalized students by expanding course offerings on research ethics and incorporating requirements in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies. We ask this with the recognition that technical knowledge is dangerous without an analysis of race and power. Finally, we urge current professors to build on pedagogy and research that is explicitly anti-racist and anti-oppressive, that gives students the opportunity to work on projects that uplift and liberate communities of color and other marginalized people.

 

We thank the following groups for their explicit support (running list). Please reach out to colorcodeboard@gmail.com if your organization would like to co-sign:

National Society of Black Engineers– Columbia

The Lion

No Red Tape

Students for Justice in Palestine

Divest Barnard

Earlier this week, the Bacchanal Committee officially announced that Rae Sremmurd, Marian Hill, and Bibi Bourelly will be performing at this year’s Bacchanal.

Tickets to Bacchanal 2016 are available for the performance on April 2nd. As previously announced, EVELINE will also be featured during this year’s show.

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.