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Barnard/Columbia Dances At Miller Theater: Spring 2019

Self-appointed ballet editor Elle Ferguson serves you the tea on the Miller performance last weekend.

Mark Morris’s “World Power.”

Last weekend performers took the stage at Miller Theater to showcase four modern pieces: “World Power,” “Resist #2,” “Imagine That You’re a Mouse,” and “The Faded Nature of Things.” The first was an original Mark Morris piece, and the other three were premiere works.

Barnard dance professor Marjorie Folkman staged “World Power.” “World Power” was originally choreographed by modern dance legend Mark Morris as a satire to the American occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century. This piece was really interesting to watch and Folkman worked with Mark Morris in his company for many years so I knew that what she staged would be authentic.

Some issues arose because the piece deals with colonialism and imperialism, but as Adele Chi (BC ‘22), one of the dancers in the piece, stated, “being with a cast and a director who welcomed and invited conversation and discussion about the piece was nice for me because it opened up an avenue for us all to share our feelings and thoughts with one another so that we could ease the tension and keep open dialogue with each other.”

As opposed to the well-established work of Mark Morris the rest of the show’s repertoire included premiere works by choreographers chameckilerner (this is actually a name for the collaboration of two artists, Rosane Chamecki and Andrea Lerner), Neta Pulvermacher, and Yin Yue. All three pieces, though expressed in the same medium of modern dance, expressed interesting and unique ambiences.

After “World Power” a small group of six female dancers hit the stage in one of the weirdest modern pieces I’ve ever seen (considering this is modern dance, that is saying something). It was like a crazy, sexy, fever dream. The dancers individually rotated between repetitive movements, most of which focused on smooth movements of the hips and torso contractions. No music was played except for radio transmissions at the beginning and end of the piece. Intermittently one of the dancers from the group would perform a short monologue about their relationship with their pelvis, topics ranging from their “big ass birthmark” to their first experience masturbating over winter break. The random monologues and movements combined with the seriousness of the dancers’ delivery made for a hilarious and unforgettable piece. At times, however, I felt that the one movement went on for too long and left the audience wanting something more to grasp their attention.

The last two pieces after the intermission were among my favorite dances that I have seen performed by Columbia dancers. First Pulvacher’s piece “Imagine You’re a Mouse” displayed incredible group coordination and quirky dialogue, such as “Imagine that you’re a mouse. Imagine that you’re Hitler. Imagine that you are a tree…” with dancers mimicking the movements of the characters described. I loved every part of this dance, from the quirky props (water bottles) and the music, a medley of Chopin, Fauré, the recorded voice of the choreographer, and more. My favorite part was when the dancers danced together in a circle in the center of the stage to an Israeli pop song; the synchronization was flawless and the dancers were contagiously energetic.

Lastly, Yin Yue, an internationally awarded choreographer, premiered her piece “The Faded Nature of Things.” Yin Yue is simply an amazing choreographer and her dancers did a wonderful job of expressing her artistic vision. Though at times the group coordination was lacking, the incredible solos more than made up for it. Also, I have to give it up for the amazing use of the fog machine that was really wild. 

Overall a really wonderful performance! I might not recommend it to people who are less in touch with the dance world, but if you are into dance and choreography this is one of the “must see” shows on campus.

Image via Li Chen (love) 

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