In the traditional musical, choreography usually comes last in the creative process. It serves to enhance what has already been written, to add spectacle and excitement. But the Columbia Performing Arts League's "Lydia and Tom" changes this process in this semester's "special project"—a chance for students to present an original work through a workshop process—by incorporating modern dance as an element central to the plot of the show.
"We're doing something new that hasn't been done before," choreographer Adrianna Aguilar, BC '13, said. "Here, all the numbers are dance and musical numbers. So it was a big task."
The cast and creative team of "Lydia and Tom" have taken on the work of a musical and of a full-scale modern dance performance.
"Often the music interprets the characters from the script and then the dance has to interpret the song," director Chris Silverberg, CC '13, said. "We wanted to reverse this process—what if the dance came first?"
The two main characters, Lydia and Tom, are each portrayed by two performers, a dancer and a singer. At times, each character is represented either by song or by dance, but occasionally they perform simultaneously. Silverberg and Aguilar have been working closely to ensure that the song and dance are integrated and articulate the same emotions.
Aguilar said she attempts to capture each characterís most intense emotions through her choreography. Her goal is to see how the dancers become actors "themselves through the movement."
As Lydia and Tom fight in one song, the singing actors articulate the arguments of each character, and the dancing actors represent their emotions physically. In a moment of internal conflict, singing Lydia (Devin Lloyd, CC '15), and dancing Lydia (Ashley Nagel, SEAS '13) face off. This show allows for a kind of heightened physical confrontation, meant to expand the emotional capacities of each character.
The show is one example of the kind of "organic production" meant to be showcased through CUPAL Special Projects, producer Benjamin Harris, CC '14, said.
Performances of "Lydia and Tom" will be this Thursday at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m. in the Lerner Black Box. Tickets will be available at the TIC for free for CUID holders and for $7 for non-CUID holders.
Update, Sept. 31, 4:49 p.m.: Performances of "Lydia and Tom" have been postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. New performances will be Thursday, Nov. 8 at 8:30 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 9 at 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.