Dancers from three Ivy League schools will come together at Miller Theatre in their first inter-Ivy collaboration this weekend.
Columbia Ballet Collaborative will join Harvard Ballet Company and Princeton University Ballet on a new project, the Ivy Ballet Exchange, playing at Miller Theatre on Feb. 15 and 16.
The brainchild of CBC member and Ivy Ballet Exchange Chair Elysia Dawn, GS ’14, the project is the first attempt at bringing together the three prominent Ivy League, student-run ballet organizations on one stage. For Dawn, this project has been six years in the making, since she joined CBC.
“Ever since, I’ve just thought it would be so cool to get everyone together,” Dawn said.
She added that the responses she received from the directors at Harvard and Princeton were enthusiastic.
“We were immediately really excited about the project and were especially intrigued about working with CBC and Harvard Ballet,” PUB President Caroline Hearst said. “They are both exact parallel organizations to the one we have at Princeton.”
This weekend’s performance will be divided into three acts, each devoted to a set of pieces performed by one of the three companies. Though this wasn’t the first choice structurally, Hearst and Dawn said that, logistically, it was the only way to accommodate the number of dancers participating in the event.
“Originally, we were intrigued by the idea of blurring the lines between the shows, so that you couldn’t tell who was who or judge the schools next to one another,” Hearst explained. However, that would be technically difficult to achieve.
HBC Co-Director Michelle Luo agreed. “I think we’ll really know how it works out when we get there, but it’s a good opportunity to be able to watch the other schools, and that’s definitely part of this whole dialogue that we have between the companies,” she said.
The choreography and movement in the exchange’s performances will be aimed at introducing a new audience to ballet. While the iconic ballet symbols of tutus and pointe technique remain, Hearst explained that PUB in particular is “always striving to change people’s perspectives of ballet, to show that ballet can fit in with that same niche that more contemporary dance can fit into.”
CBC, too, will be presenting more contemporary works.
“It’s contemporary ballet, but is still balletic,” Dawn said. “For one piece we’re en pointe, and in another we’re rolling around on the floor. There’s a nice mix within the contemporary ballet realm.”
The elder statesman of the trio, HBC, which was founded in 1993, has a more traditional focus to its work.
“The company is rooted in classical technique, performing at least one classical work per production,” Luo said.
Overall, though, the pieces being performed at the Ivy Ballet Exchange are on the more contemporary end of the ballet spectrum, including a piece set to a song by Philip Glass.
Dawn, who expects to graduate next fall, said she is overwhelmed by the support she’s received for what she hopes will become an annual event.
“Everyone has been doing their best to make sure it all comes together,” Dawn said. “It definitely takes a village. I’m so grateful to everyone for giving their best and am excited to see all the dancers coming together.”
The Ivy Ballet Exchange performances are Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20.