The Columbia Ballet Collaborative offers the kind of performing art you didn’t know you needed in your life. Also called the Ivy Ballet Exchange, the program strives to promote collaboration amongst schools like Columbia, Yale, Harvard in all forms of dance. This year, the Lion was invited to the 2016 Ivy Ballet Exchange. After a day of classes and workshops, all fifty dancers showcased their talents to the audience.
The first group to dance was PUB, Princeton University’s Ballet Company. They performed a piece entitled “Instinct” choreographed by Paige Shaw. The piece was technically sound and was performed en pointe. The music was composed of soft, breathy moans that slowly became discordant.
The next piece was performed by the Harvard Ballet Company, or HBC. The choreography, created by Sophie Carroll, was an excerpt from the longer piece based on The Giver by Lois Lowry. “Rosemary’s Release” was set to Claire de Lune, which was chosen “to explore the melancholy undertones of the song.” The piece involved only five dancers. All of their movements were slow and deliberate, giving their dancing a heavy, deliberate nature.
The following dance, “Ripples”, was a direct contrast. Marisa Remez, who choreographed the piece, said she wanted to celebrate the joy of dancing since this was her last year dancing with PUB. It was a bright, joyous dance filled with bright smiles and elaborate footwork set to a dubstep-y tune that occasionally sounded like soda cans being opened.
Connor Yokus’s piece “Whitey Tighty” was another dance about dancing, but it had a more serious angle. He said he his piece was “a reflection on [his] thoughts about ballet and his complex relationship with it.” It certainly turned many assumptions about ballet on their heads. The piece began with two men partnering in a duet with a corps of women behind them. The music constantly switched between a melodic, classical sounding piece and a more chaotic instrumental with a bassier beat. Later on, there was partnering between two women in an echo of the piece’s start. Still later, there was the more traditional partnering of a man and a woman, but the woman supported the man instead of the other way around. I enjoyed the twisting of my expectations.
The next piece was called “Spindle of Gestures,” choreographed by Norbert de la Cruz III. This was the only piece where the dancers had distinctive costumes: ombre shirts that turned from white to black along with black leggings. The dancers’ movements were quick but deliberate, and they all seemed to move as parts of one body. In stark contrast, the music was slow and melodic.
“The Shape of the Voice” by Morgan Mcewen featured sharp, angular movements. The music contained vocalized moans and grunts similar to “Instinct.” The choreographer used many 90* angles that were unfamiliar to see in a piece that was mostly ballet. The dancers made it work, however.
Julia Janson of PUB choreographed a piece (“The Construct”) that was more classical ballet-y, except that it was filled with many tumbles, falls, and turns. All of those movements were executed as smoothly as any other movement.
The performance may not have had flashy costumes or a spotlit stage, but it didn’t need it. The dancers had superb technique and all worked well together. The Columbia Ballet Exchange truly fostered a dynamic and collaborative environment that was enjoyable for both viewer and participant. Keep an eye out for their upcoming performance in April!