Following a semester at the forefront of campus discussion about their place on campus, the Columbia Ballet Collaborative presents their Fall Concert pretty legitimately not on campus this weekend. Bwog’s resident ballet barometer Renée Kraiem made the trek to last night’s dress rehearsal to see whether you should too.
So let’s get the elephant out of the room before we start here; no, the Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s Fall Concert is not at Miller Theater. Instead, it’s at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and, yes, you probably have to take the 1 to get there. And then, yes, you have to walk pretty far toward the Hudson, almost to 11th Avenue. But you should go. And not just because you want to support the Arts Initiative, or because you signed their petition, but because CBC still puts on a hell of a concert.
The menu isn’t gluttonous, but the offerings are savory, and, in the most delicate way possible, provide quite a lot to chew on. There are more hits than misses, and in an interesting fashion, the less successful pieces are beneficial to the group if only because they’re a reminder that the group is one of students, who, as talented as they may be, are where they are to (still) learn (a little bit). In this respect the Concert is, however unintentionally, a response to the Collaborative’s tribulations over the course of the semester. It is impossible to come away from the offering without an appreciation of the uniquely Columbian contribution that the Collaborative makes to Columbia; the diversity, intelligence, and professional interpretation of intellectual material is a shining reflection on how talented our peers are.
This talent shines through most prominently, for the record, in the second act. The range in tone, style, and technique demonstrated in Emery LeCrone’s “Aria,” Lauren Alpert’s “signal:noise,” and Lisa de Ribere’s “Jadam’s Apple” is delicious. De Ribere’s piece is a commendable conclusion to the concert, combining a sensual duet featuring Rebecca Azenberg (GS ’13) and John Poppe (SEAS ’15) and an uplifting finale set to John Pizzarell’s “Traffic Jam/The Kicker.” The preceding piece, “signal:noise,” is of a different era, and much closer to home. As Alpert’s dancers fill the stage in colorful leotards they move swiftly through a range of contemporary, sharp music choices with movement that is intellectually stimulating and, of course, technically challenging on a grand scale. It is Emery LeCrone’s “Aria,” though, that sets the act’s bar high–even further uptown than Morningside Heights. Spotlighted in an eerily nude costume, soloist Kaitlyn Gilliand (GS) glides gracefully through movement that is forceful, and responds to an urgency in her musical accompaniment with skill and precision. “Aria,” in many ways, is CBC. It is about dance, and about dance that is unimaginably technical to the trained eye and beautifully acceptable to the untrained one.
Lucky for you, though, the Fall Concert contains another piece that accomplishes both–and then some. Tucked neatly away in the middle of the first act, Nick Kepley’s “Intimations” is certainly not one to be so tucked, and it is what will stick with you on the (substantial…) walk back to the 1 at Columbus Circle. It will do so not just because Kepley accomplishes a haunting tone, cloaking his dancers in long black skirts that accentuate their movement so that it sticks with you for just that one more second that you would like it to, or because the musical accompaniment is a piercing one. It is because the piece showcases the fervor of the group, and of his dancers, to leave an impression. Kepley creates a character for featured dancer Lauren DeMaria (CC ’13) that she executes with passion and precision. Most striking is when she does so by leaping into the arms of her fellow dancers with force, emotional and physical, behind her.
This leap, in its force, in its risk, and in its dramatic and successful execution, is what CBC’s Fall Concert. It’s a pretty large leap down to 60th Street, but if you do it with even half the gumption of CBC, you won’t regret it. After all, it’s all downhill to 11th anyway.
CBC’s Fall Concert premiers tonight at 8PM at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center at 248 W 60th St (between Amsterdam and 11th Avenue), and again on Saturday, also at 8. Tickets are available at the door or online.