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"Crescendo" Builds Varied Showcase

By Katya Johns, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Ballet Company will celebrate its 20th anniversary at this year’s spring performance, which opens on Friday. Since its founding in 1993, HBC has evolved from a six-member group that was frequently a guest act at campus jazz shows into an independent corps of 25 dancers with its own biannual performances. The name of its new show, “Crescendo,” is meant to commemorate its growth.

The lifeblood of the company has been its steady flow of original professional and student choreography, which will be on full display next weekend. This year, the company has collaborated with not one but two guest choreographers who have devised new pieces expressly for HBC. George Birkadze, a resident choreographer at Festival Ballet Providence, will send dancers drifting and flowing like snowflakes to the minimalist music of Philip Glass. “He is very hot right now in the contemporary ballet world,” says Bridget D. Scanlon ’15, a student director of the show. Her co-director, Michelle Y. Luo ’14, is performing in a piece by the other guest choreographer, Alan Obuzor, whom Dance Magazine included in its 2013 list of “Twenty-Five to Watch.” In stark contrast to Birkadze, Obuzor has set his piece in the heat of the jungle.

“[The choreographers] have really enjoyed working with us because we are such quick learners,” Luo says. “They have described it as a very positive experience.”

In addition to premiering the two professional pieces, the HBC will revive two historic pieces from its recent past: Boyko Dossev’s “Bolero,” first performed in spring 2011, and Ricky Kuperman’s “To Dust,” from fall 2009. From the distant past of ballet, the co-directors have chosen to reenact a scene from “Swan Lake.” “We chose it because it is for us the most quintessentially classical piece of ballet,” Luo says.

Like with all HBC’s shows, audience members can expect performances ranging from the traditional and primitive to the contemporary and hip. As their poster promises, there will be “swans, statues, soldiers and snowflakes” sharing the large stage of Farkas Hall. “Our program mixes up different stories and styles to keep people continuously entertained,” Luo says.

“[We will be] giving ballet to you in every shape, way and form,” Scanlon says.

—Staff writer Katya Johns can be reached at kjohns@college.harvard.edu.

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