Each week, close to 1,200 students take dance classes at Barnard. This abounding interest in dance is supported by a vibrant extracurricular performing arts scene, home to dozens of dance groups ranging in style from tap to contemporary to Bhangra. Out of these organizations, three dedicate their efforts to the ballet form.
Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Columbia University Ballet Ensemble, and Columbia Repertory Ballet each produce a semesterly performance open to students in all of the University’s undergraduate colleges. Centered around ballet performance, each group holds a unique place in the greater Columbia dance scene as a result of their individual missions and specific performance opportunities.
With an emphasis on generating new choreographic works, CBC was founded in 2007 by professional dancers enrolled at Columbia. The group prides itself on the success of many of its alumni, some of whom are current dancers in professional dance companies including the New York City Ballet and the Boston Ballet.
“Our mission is to encourage interdepartmental collaborations, cultivate performances of new works, participate in outreach programs, offer free weekly classes, and provide affordable ticket prices to our performances,” CBC states on their website.
CBC provides the opportunity for advanced dancers to work in a professional-adjacent environment and create works with both emerging and established choreographers in New York City. They additionally allot space for one student choreographer each semester for a new work. This semester, that student is Sarah Yasmine Marazzi-Sassoon, BC ’22.
CBC’s fall performance will take place on Nov. 24, where they will debut new works by Marazzi-Sassoon as well as outside choreographers Emily Coates, Eve Jacobs, Emily Kikta, Earl Mosley, and John Selya.
CUBE sets itself apart through their massive undertaking of putting together a full-length ballet each semester. Their recent productions include “Swan Lake,” “Don Quixote,” and “Coppelia,” choreographed based on versions by famed choreographer Marius Petipa.
To accomplish a full-length ballet, CUBE requires a considerable number of participants. As the largest ballet group on campus, CUBE prides itself on its mission to cast each dancer who auditions, regardless of level.
“This allows those new to dance to immerse themselves in the ballet environment without the judgment associated with the ballet world, but also allows those from varying levels of higher ballet backgrounds to continue performing ballet works and developing their technique and character work,” Michaela Fleischer, BC ’22, prop master and co-publicity director at CUBE, said.
This semester, CUBE will show their production of “Le Corsaire,” taking place on the third weekend in November. As they have in the past, they will utilize the classic choreography of Petipa, adapted to best fit their dancers.
CRB, the newest of the three groups, was founded in 2018 by students with previous professional experience in ballet. The group is dedicated to producing a repertory program, but differs from CUBE in their utilization of excerpts from multiple classical and contemporary works rather than one full-length ballet.
“We want every dancer to feel seen and featured; both this semester and last, our largest ensemble piece had five dancers,” Clara Monk, CC ’20, co-director of CRB said.
For their inaugural performance last spring, CRB produced a program of several works ranging from August Bournenville’s “Paul et Virginie” to “Love Letters,” a contemporary work by Stephano Nappi.
CRB’s fall production will take place on Nov. 15 at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center. They plan to perform excerpts from ballets including “The Nutcracker,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and Gerald Arpino’s “Birthday Variations,” as well as other works by Mary Barton, Douglas Martin, Kevin Jenkins, Duncan Lyle, and Marika Brussel.
Though three ballet groups on one campus may initially seem redundant, each group fills an essential space to further enrich the culture of dance on campus, from the innovative to the traditional and the selective to the all-inclusive.