On Saturday night, Columbia Ballet Collaborative held their fall performance at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in west midtown. Internal Editor Sarah Kinney and staff writer Elle Ferguson (both of whom are ballet-ers themselves) attended the performance to see what they had in store. What they found was an enticing and experimental showcase of ballet in all its forms.
Columbia Ballet Collaborative, a student group comprised of dancers from all four undergraduate colleges and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is known for their creative forays into the world of modern ballet. Saturday’s performance consisted of seven pieces which varied along a spectrum of classical to contemporary. Each piece was made possible by a different freelance professional choreographer whom CBC had invited to work with them over the course of the semester. There was, however, one exception. Through the CBC Choreographer Mentorship Program, which allows one student dancer to work with a professional choreographer, CC senior Kosta Karakashyan worked with choreographer Michelle Thompson Ulerich to create the second piece of the evening, Hollow City.
Hollow City was one of the more experimental pieces of the performance, featuring a live musician on stage, low lighting, and only four dancers. Of those four, one dancer (Bridget Scanlon, BC ’20) was en pointe, while the other three donned plain black socks. This made for interesting and intricate choreography with complex partner work among all the dancers, relying on physical contact and different ranges of movement.
The first piece of the night, Elements, showcased three female ballerinas and one male dancer who all alternated between group choreography and solos. Especially impressive were the solos by the female dancers who approached each movement with speed and precision while still managing to hold their balance and indulge in the slower moments that the music offered.
The second to last piece of the night, Rameau Pas de Trois, was a more classical piece, set to the simple (yet quick) harpsichord of French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau and featuring only three dancers. The two women, Ellie Frith (GS ’20) and Kennedy Roese (GS ’20), traded off partnering with James Shee (GSAS), whose technique and stage presence were unparalleled throughout the night. The three dancers commanded the stage with grace, bringing the audience to applause at multiple points throughout the piece.
The show ended with a unique piece choreographed by Silas Farley. Following the title of the work, O Clap Your Hands, a number of dancers entered the stages clapping their hands in rhythm to a gospel-inspired composition. While the music was beautiful and the dancers even more so, some parts of it left me feeling like I was lost in a church service, one of which I was not expecting to be a part. But before I had too much time to wonder for myself, the lights went black and the music stopped suddenly, bringing the evening to an abrupt (but exciting) end.
Overall the dancers and choreographers produced an exciting and diverse show. All showed a range of skill with their articulate motion, elegant lines, and effortless balance. It was a pleasure to watch talent and innovation come together to create such incredible works.
Photo via skinney (that’s me)