Bwog Staff Writer and self-identified dance editor of Bwog, Elle Ferguson, gives you the hot scoop on Columbia’s newest dance group.
Last night a new performing arts group on campus, Columbia Repertory Ballet (CRB) had its inaugural performance at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center.
CRB was created this semester by Columbia University students Marika Chrisanthopoulos (BC ’19), Ellen Lou (GS ’21), Clara Monk (CC ’20), Kyryk Pavlovsky (CC ’20), and Simon Wexler (GS ’21). Their goal was to bring their passion for ballet to dancers on campus. The cast is comprised of advanced ballet dancers.
The repertoire combined canonical ballet pieces and more contemporary pieces. To start the evening, soloists performed excerpts from Giselle, one of the most well-known classical ballets with choreography by one of the most recognized choreographers, Marius Petipa. The first variation included dances from the first act of the ballet, the “Peasant Pas De Deux and Giselle.” Three dancers took the stage with high energy, welcoming the audience members with joyful and expressive movements. Then, dancer Pralaya Cuomo (GS ’20) took the stage to dance the part of Myrtha, the ghostly queen of the ballet who dominates the second act of Giselle. Although drastically changing moods from the first variation, Cuomo did an excellent job in her role, and was a pleasure to watch.
Following were two pieces choreographed to Chopin music, a nice contrast to the first dance. The first was a duet by Simon Wexler and Samantha Sacks (CC ’22), who presented a wonderful and tender love story set to Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major. The second Chopin variation was comprised of five dancers, even though it was called “Chopin for Two.” (What???) To finish the first half of the performance, several dancers performed excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, including the Bridesmaids’ dance, Juliet’s Ballroom variation, and the exquisite Balcony Pas de Deux.
The second portion of the evening gave an equally impressive and balanced set of choreography, recognizable from traditional ballets (like Corsaire) and more modern pieces. The first dance, “Excerpt from Paul Et Virginie,” showcased five impressive female dancers who worked exceptionally well together. The second, “Love Letters,” had a very modern, “Rite of Spring” vibe to it that was a refreshing change from the other pieces. To finish, several variations from Le Corsaire were performed. Set to choreography after Marius Petipa, these pieces returned the show to where it started, in the classical ballet canon.
Overall, the show offered an impressive cast and set list, despite the fact that it was CRB’s debut. For future viewers, I’m sure this group will continue to give all audience members — dancers and non-dancers — a memorable and entertaining night.
image via Manhattan Movement and Arts Center