This year, as the Columbia Ballet Collaborative hits its four-year age mark, it also finally hits its stride.
CBC performed its fall show this past weekend at Barnard’s Streng Studio on Nov. 20 and at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center on Nov. 19 and 21. Though the pieces in the performance were not all successes, the company displayed a new level of dance professionalism.
Five students in the School of General Studies founded CBC in 2007, but according to Laura Goodall, CC ’11, dancer and executive director of CBC, the group has since spread to incorporate students from all of the undergraduate colleges at Columbia. This fall’s show featured 23 dancers from Columbia and Barnard as well as two guest artists in six pieces.
“I wanted the fall showing to be really a sort of something that was going to offer a really diverse collection of pieces,” Elysia Dawn, GS and CBC Artistic Director, said. “We have a piece en pointe with tutus, but there’s also going to be very contemporary work on the program. It’s good for the students and the people within the group to do different kinds of things.”
CBC accomplished this goal with a program that juxtaposed classical and contemporary pieces. This combination continued throughout the show and proved a clever way to organize the program.
While the show included strong displays of the dancers’ techniques, the choreography was often not very original, particularly in the more classical pieces. Summer Jones’s piece, for instance, was fluid and graceful but ultimately unsurprising.
The same was not true of the more contemporary pieces, however. “Sun Will Set,” choreographed by Adam Hendrickson, was a standout, with four dancers in earth-toned costumes performing evocative movements. Dancer Lauren Alpert’s engagement with the music was stunning, as were her joyful facial expressions.
However, this season, CBC’s emphasis seemed to be on the improvement of the more technical elements of the performance rather than the dancers or choreographers. The costuming this year showed a new level of professionalism, as CBC borrowed costumes from a professional costume maker. This, Goodall noted, “helps bring a continuity to the performance that you lack when every choreographer does her own costumes. It helps us present ourselves in the best light we can.”
This is also the first time that the dancers have performed in a professional theater for a fall show. CBC hopes that performing in a professional theater will help the group to make more of an impact on New York City’s ballet scene.
“We were looking for a venue that would help us branch out into the New York dance community,” Goodall said. “We want to get our name out there and we like presenting ourselves in a professional way, and we like to use a venue that can help us promote ourselves.”
However, there was still a performance at Barnard for one evening, primarily because of CBC’s aim to share its work with Columbians. As Goodall said, “It’s important for us to have a performance there [Barnard] to be accessible to the student body.”