Tag: Columbia Ballet Collaborative

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!

Prior to curtain at any ballet, one braces oneself for two realities: the sheer physical artistry about to grace the stage, coupled with distinct waves of equally potent pride and insecurity of witnessing the art our peers and friends create with their bodies. Both infused the audience at Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s opening night on Friday, an eclectic yet harmonious show that bridged genre and form.

Bach’s tinkling a minor counterpoint ushered in the first number, prolific choreographer Avi Scher’s “In Her Skin.” The dance juxtaposed highly classical, almost rigid footwork against what can only be described as quirk: a little wiggle from Katya Vasilaky here, a fluid body roll from Brittney Feit there. A peculiar air of anachronism hung in the air; the piece’s experimentation with variations on classical arabesque and jeté with a backdrop of quintessential Bach suspended time, as all dynamic art does. “Imparted Audacity,” choreographer Donna Salgado’s fusion of runway with classical ballet, followed, with dancers clad in Beyoncé-esque monochrome, paired with pulsating bursts of energy that mirrored the music. The dance featured Connor Yockus, CC ‘18, himself the choreographer of a post-intermission number, “Whitey Tighty.”

Shoshana Rosenfield, CBC’s graduating senior this semester, and James Shee, her partner and previous dancer at the National Ballet of Canada, shattered the stage with sheer finesse and technique in Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, specially commissioned for the New York City Ballet, for which Rosenfield danced for several years. Described by the Ballet as an “eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique,” the number had the audience clinging to the edges of its seat and what remained of its self-esteem; Rosenfield’s grand jetés were equal parts controlledly masterful yet fluidly graceful, matched only by Shee’s hush-inducing fouttés. Applause rang loud and often, the duo’s symbiosis and prodigious technique was as stunning as it was effortless.

The second half of the show blurred form and time: Robert LaFosse’s traditionally-choreographed “La Valse de L’Armour,” iridescently costumed by Ballet Academy East, preceded Connor Yockus’ student-choreographed, boundary-breaking foray into a dance genre consistently “plagued by sexism, heteronormativity, and racial divides.” Dark, brooding, and provocative, Yockus’ number blended gender binaries, sexuality, and racial norms as erratic, goosebump-raising beats suffused each dancer’s movement. In calculated yet spontaneous rolls, whether through the air or across the floor, or with almost spastic arabesques filling the stage, “Whitey Tighty” challenged the notions of classical ballet

CBC’s opening night closed with a hypnotic “The Shape of Voice,” choreographed by Morgan McEwen to an eight-voice partita, a haunting play on the polyphonic Bach that opened the show. Disorienting in its discordance, the piece nevertheless closed the program epitomizing the consistent creativity and artistry that preceded it; McEwen tailored lithe limbs and traditionally tame pirouettes to the rhythmic, animalistic moans and raspy breaths enveloping the entire hall. If there was any doubt left in the audience’s mind of ballet’s power to adapt and continuously stun even as it draws on art deeply rooted in tradition, Friday night’s conglomeration of past, present, and future surely dispelled it. Cheers to CBC for this weekend’s performances and for all its genre-bending, impossibly graceful ones to come.