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‘In Passage’: Migration in Motion

The Harvard Ballet Company performs "In Passage."
The Harvard Ballet Company performs "In Passage." By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Michael A. Bruce-Rivera, Contributing Writer

The Harvard Ballet Company and the Brattle Street Chamber Players have come together to produce the show “In Passage,” a journey that explores the themes of migration and home through music and dance. With a beautifully ethereal original score by Sam Wu ’17 and skilled direction by Alexandra Caffrey ’19 and Alison J. Garber ’19, “In Passage” is a successful collaborative effort that expertly weaves student choreography and a unique sound, holding the full attention of the audience until the curtain has dropped.

The dancers of the Harvard Ballet Company move like professionals. They dance with lightness and grace, turning hours of practice and rehearsal into seemingly effortless execution, and the choreography is done with immaculate execution.The opening movement, “the exuberance of beginning,” begins the journey of migration with a whimsical welcome from 22 dancers running across the stage. More dissonant and anxious movements later contrast with this grand opening. In the eighth movement, “lone bird, in moonlight, clouds of silver,” two pairs of dancers engage in a form of combat, pushing and pulling until they finally come to rest in each other’s arms.The ballet provides moments of both grandeur and solemnity.

The original score by Wu is a work of art. The depth and complexity of each piece is palpable.The score showcases a wide variety of compositional techniques and influence, ranging from the whimsy of Debussy to the harsh sardonic of Shostakovich. The Brattle Street Chamber Players bring this amazing score to life with a resonating vitality. The music is not just a part of the show but a performance in its own right. Led by conductors Gordon V. Ma ’19 and Reuben Stern ’20, the orchestra executes to perfection. The violinists, including John Lim ’20 and Diana Wang ’20, provide the bone-shaking altos while cello (Audrey Chen ’18) and viola (Faith A. Pak ’19, an active Crimson editor) solos provide the deeper tones of the ensemble.

The set is intentionally minimalistic. With a white backdrop that changes colors for each movement, the focus is on the dancers and music. The costume design is also simple. Still, the performers do go through a number of costume changes, each providing more range of movement than the previous. The lighting design also accentuates the production flawlessly. The final movement is a prime example: The show ends with the performers becoming dark silhouettes, juxtaposed against a light purple background, closing this incredible journey with a fitting finale.

The dancing, music, and production of “In Passage” all contribute to a spectacle of migration and transformation. The Harvard Ballet Company and the Brattle Street Chamber Players have produced an excellent work of art and will hopefully continue to collaborate in the future.

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