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The Harvard Ballet Company will celebrate its 25th anniversary season with “on quarter ” — a contemporary ballet performance that strips away traditional set confines to give the impression of a “backstage scene.”
One of the student directors, Anna K. Antongiorgi ’19 explained that the show is really about different moments that are often hidden from an audience's view. “It pushes the boundaries of where the stage is: People will be dancing in the aisles, people will be dancing with the booms,” Antongiorgi said.
The other student director, Mara G. Milner ’20, described how the curtain is purposefully flipped in the other direction to emphasize the “behind the scenes” sentiment of a production. Milner hopes the show will make the audience question their role within the performance. While the show is inventive, it still aligns with HBC’s history.
The entire show is set to Gershwin’s music and performed by student pianist Forrest G. Flesher ’21. Both live music and specifically a piece by Gershwin have previously been used in HBC performances, however this performance is choreographed with the intention of reinventing tradition. Choreographers were also intent on having “on quarter” speak to the history of HBC by incorporating elements from previous performances. They have also tapped into HBC lineage as two out of the 15 choreographers are alumni. Most pieces are choreographed by students, but two dancers, Elizabeth C. Walker ’11 and Anna Riley-Shepard ’1, have returned to Cambridge once more to contribute expertise for this special occasion.
Making the show cohesive with multiple moving elements is not necessarily an easy feat. Many of the contemporary dancers agree with this sentiment, including choreographer Angie Cui ’20. “It is stressful as a choreographer because there’s a lot to live up to, a lot of history we are trying to capture,” Cui said. There is a lot of pressure in trying to capture and portray the dancer experience: a world of challenges and nuances so specific to this industry. “on quarter” celebrates both old and new. “It is a performance that commemorates what HBC has been for the past 25 years, but also pushes the company in a new direction,” Antongiorgi said.
“on quarter” will run this and next weekend at the Loeb MainStage: Nov. 3, Nov. 8, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 4, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.
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