There are many talented dance groups on campus, but CoLab is probably the only one to combine dance, acrobatics, film, photography, poetry, and live music in one show.
Describing itself on its website as “an interdisciplinary student art group made up mostly of dancers and choreographers,” CoLab focuses on the experimental and creative parts of dance rather than the purely technical. From feats of strength and flexibility on aerial silks to dancer-musicians who switched between the two in the middle of a piece, CoLab’s fall performance last weekend offered excitement and variety even for those easily bored by dance.
For dancer Jack Crawford, BC ’14, CoLab is an opportunity to perform a more unusual art form. Aerial silks involve ropes hanging from the ceiling that the dancer manipulates to do acrobatic tricks.
“I train in Brooklyn three or four days a week mostly on aerial silks,” she said, “and it is exciting for me to get to perform on campus because usually people don’t know anything about aerials. Working with CoLab, I not only get to share what I work so hard on, but I also get to refine the artistry aspects.”
“Fragile/Open,” by Garnet Henderson and Nick Tyson, both CC ’13, began with a short film showing dancers performing in public New York City areas, such as Lincoln Center. In typical New York City fashion, no one on the street seems to find it bizarre or even interesting that this is taking place: People walk in front of the camera without noticing it is there. The film ends with some of the dancers clutching the necks of the others and dragging them away—the same way they then enter the stage to begin the live part of the piece.
“Mance & Duzik,” the piece by Lilly Pearlman, BC ’14, and Danielle Deluty, BC ’14, combined live music and dance in an unexpected way: The musicians were also the dancers. Deluty started off singing and playing the sultry “Blues in the Night” on the bass while Pearlman performed a contemporary dance solo. Pearlman then picked up a fiddle and joined in the music, while Deluty showed off her tap skills.
Some of the pieces were ambitiously “artsy,” such as “Bol” by Maya Lee-Parritz, BC ’15, a contemporary solo to her own recorded voice reading “Honest-To-God Color, God Said, For Artists,” by poet Marianne Boruch. Others, like “Quartet for Dancers in F Major” by Katherine Bergstrom, CC ’14, seemed intended simply for enjoyment.
Photographer Ayelet Pearl, BC/JTS ’14 and a Spectator news photo deputy, documented and observed the entire rehearsal process, the photos from which were displayed at the performance. For Pearl, the experience was an opportunity to widen her range as a photographer and to learn more about the process of putting on a dance show.
“Dance photography is totally different than anything I’ve ever done. A dance photograph—no matter how good a photograph—is just not a good photograph if the quality of the dance movement or position captured is not correct,” she said. “I was able to really experiment and learn what photographic techniques work and which don’t.”
CoLab may not be the most professional dance group on campus—as Pearl put it, “The rehearsal process is so changing,” referring to rehearsal schedules, casts, choreographers, and inspiration.
Nevertheless, if this weekend’s performances were any indication, it offers an invaluable opportunity for dancers and artists to experiment and explore.