Lucky 13

Innovative Project To Span Arts Premieres

“Dancers aren’t just dancers; they’re also actors, and they’re also musicians,” claims choreographer Adrienne M. Minster ’04. These are the fighting words of a rising student trend towards interdisciplinary art—collaboratively mixing genres from dance to music to drama—at Harvard.

A handful of students spent their Friday night clanging large empty water jugs together, fleeing from a monster composed of two other students, and tumbling from a building into the underworld—all while watched by about fifty other undergraduates.

Last Friday’s spunky debut of “Thirteen”—a new collaborative group combining Harvard musicians, dancers, actors and technicians—turned the Rieman Center for the Performing Arts into an improvisational showcase for what performers hope will be the future of the arts at Harvard.

Project instigator Matthew J. Corriel ’05 said that the group wanted to put the perfomers’ distinct media “together on the same plane of importance.”

The Harvard arts world has always been segregated—musicians, actors, painters, dancers all do their own thing.

But “Thirteen” wanted to bring them all together—and so they gathered some of Harvard’s most experienced artists, who in turn brought in others. In the end, they had assembled a group of performers—last minute changes actually left them a few shy of thirteen—from across the artistic spectrum who were excited about interdisciplinary effort.

Their first performance attracted numerous friends and a crowd of collaborative art enthusiasts, including many members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club.

Although the performers had advertised that the show would begin at 8 p.m., they in fact started performing around 7:30, their mock fighting and simulated sex surprising the incoming audience.

Corriel, who music directed “Ex-Rated” last semester, said he has long been interested in the power dynamics of Harvard’s artistic community. He said the dramatic components—plays and musical theater—tend to dominate supposedly interdisciplinary shows.

But with “Thirteen,” members said each art form was on equal footing, interacting and responding to the others—entirely improvised.

Corriel said he initially wanted to center their performance around a pre-selected text, but the performers opted for improv instead.

Adrienne M. Minster ’04 said that the group didn’t want to be bound in any way.

“We start with literally nothing.” she said. “We said, ‘Let’s make it as organic as possible.’”

On the spot

This organic nature proved the most noticeable element of the performance. Each performer entered and exited at various times to sing, dance, play, speak and offer what they thought scene might need at the moment—a proposition which members said was at times daunting.

“You have to blend with something going on onstage,” Drake said.