This weekend, Columbia students will demonstrate the diversity of dance in six contemporary ballet pieces at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center.
Featuring everything from traditional ballets on classical myths to abstract, modern creations, the Columbia Dance Collaborative-run performance showcases dancers and choreographers from a large variety of backgrounds within the University.
Founded in 2007, CBC allows classically trained dancers to express themselves artistically while pursuing an academic degree. Its repertoire is heterogeneous but always relates to traditional line and aesthetic, and organizers hope that this season's mixed-bill showcases the company's ability to put a twist on ballet pedagogy to create an engaging production.
"CBC has really provided a lot of opportunities for me in working with really amazing choreographers," Dan Pahl, CC '14, said.
Part of CBC's mission is to connect Columbians with the wider New York City dance community, and this fall four freelance choreographers have staged their pieces on the troupe. Claudia Schreier, Harvard '08, was inspired by Douwe Eisenga's powerful score for "Harmonic," a Forsythe-esque, upbeat pas de quatre that uses arabesques, grand pliés, and idiosyncratic port de bras to invert ballet norms. In Donna Salgado's "A Portrait of Growth," 10 dancers are on flat, and positions transition fluidly from one to the other with ease.
"Sissy Fists" by Devin Alberda is based on the myth of Sisyphus and is a chaotic and tumultuous pas de trois featuring Rebecca Green, TC '14, Taylor Minich, CC '16, and John Poppe, SEAS '15, and set to Anna Meredith's "Nautilus." Alberda, a corps member at the New York City Ballet, is excited to tackle his first major choreographic project.
While Alberda comes from a Balanchine background, his thunderous partnering and dramatic épaulement imbue his oeuvre with individualism and uniqueness.
"I'm just trying to reconcile his [Balanchine's] legacy and my place in it with the way I actually want to move," Alberda said.
Ja' Malik described his "Brief Company" as a poignant rendering of "encountering people after a period when you've been alone for a long time." Soloist and GS student Rebecca Walden takes advantage of her training at LINES Ballet to embody Malik's contemporary style, which draws on New York City as a stimulus. En pointe and in leotards that were handmade by the choreographer himself, six dancers, including guest artist Joshua Henry, bring Phillip Glass' vibrant orchestration to life.
CBC also gives Columbians the opportunity to set their repertoire on capable performers.
Pahl and Richard Isaac, GS '14 and SIPA '15, have contributed to the program with fresh takes on classical ballet. Pahl's "The Sum of Its Parts" is an eight-and-a-half minute commentary on group dynamics.
"I started to think of the piece as a children's game," he said, describing the relationship between six girls, two chairs, and one stage that he envisioned last summer.
As a biology and dance double major, Pahl has a solid grasp on the human body that permits him to play with line and corporeality to engender detailed works. Isaac's "Night Music," accompanied by Mozart-esque melodies, is comprised of two movements: one, an adagio, and the other, an allegro.
"I wanted to start with my dancers, and that was basically my inspiration," he said.
The Columbia Ballet Collaborative's mixed-bill will run Nov. 22-23 at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center (248 West 60th St.). Tickets start from $10.
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