Tag: performance

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!


Photo Courtesy of Abhinav Seetharaman

Photo Courtesy of Abhinav Seetharaman

Meet Abhinav (Abhi) Seetharaman. Abhi is a sophomore from Ashburn, Virginia in Columbia College interested in Economics and Political Science and is on the pre-med track. On top of being a Columbia student, Abhi is the founder of MusiLinks, a 501c(3) non profit that uses music to raise funds for grassroots organizations as well as a professional South Indian classical drummer.

Intrigued about his eclectic interests, I decided to interview Abhi to learn a little bit more about his interests and off-campus performances.

What is mridangam (origins, what it sounds like, importance, etc.)?

‘Mridangam’ is an ancient South-Indian classical drum. Existing for several millennia, its origins go back to Indian mythology, where Nandi (the Bull God & escort of Lord Shiva) was a master percussionist and used to play the mridangam during the performance of Shiva’s powerful “Tāndavā” dance.

The mridangam has a unique metallic timbre – being a double-barreled drum, one side produces treble sounds, while the other side produces bass sounds. The combination of these two membranes allows for the production of distinct harmonics.

How long have you been playing it for? What led you to start playing the instrument?

I’ve been playing the mridangam for about 11 years. When I was around 5 or 6 years of age, my parents used to notice me playing beats on almost every hard surface I could get my hands on! Seeing this, they decided to initiate me into this art form.

Do you feel like there is/are any tension(s) between Western musical traditions and South Indian musical traditions?

Not at all – in fact, for the past few decades or so, South-Indian classical music has converged with Western music (pop, classical, rock, etc.) to create a fusion music concept. This dynamic concept has primarily strived to promote awareness of these music forms to both initiated and uninitiated audiences. Nowadays, many Western musicians have adopted certain South-Indian musical elements to add that new twist or dimension to their music, and vice versa.

It’s always a synergy between various world music genres.The bottom line is to make the music strike a chord with everyone, and really touch peoples’ souls.

How do you manage performing mridangam and your academic workload?

It’s simply my passion for the art form that constantly drives me to pursue it, along with academics.

Where can someone go if they want to hear you play and/or learn more about the mridangam?

My website! www.abhiseetharaman.com

The Lion Profiles project seeks to interview various students, staff, and faculty here at Columbia to offer a look into the diverse minds that makeup our academic community.

Have a recommendation for who we should interview next? Email your suggestions to team@columbialion.com with “Lion Profiles” in the subject line.