Pointe. Counterpoint. Ballet, modern dance and theater collide.
Guest blogger and philosophy concentrator Lauren Covalucci ’14 reflects on the power of artistic collaboration among three of Harvard’s muscular performance groups. The culmination is Counterpoint, a dance and theater production running Nov. 2-10 on the mainstage of the Loeb Drama Center.
The first time I saw the mainstage at Loeb Drama Center was last spring. It is essentially a giant, state of the art, ultra-customizable theater; it has sky-high ceilings, a deep stage and nearly endless possibility. It’s a thespian’s dream — and after my first tour of the space, it became a dancer’s. The staff of Counterpoint, a collaborative dance performance, had just taken on responsibility for putting on the first mainstage dance show since 2009, and just hours before opening night, I am still trying to figure out – as a performer and staff member – exactly what that means.
After that first tour, I was inspired. We all were, and we ran with it. Counterpoint snowballed from my modern company’s fall show to a Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, Harvard Ballet Company and Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company collaboration to a dance experience fused with original music composition, cutting-edge lighting design, and projections to – well, whatever it will become on November 2. The missing piece is the audience.
I was lucky to witness the mechanics of the collaboration behind the curtain. Three unique arts groups, all accustomed to their own ways, had to synchronize efforts for a unified performance. It wasn’t necessarily an easy process. What motivated us was focusing on the art that would come out of the collaboration, and the implications that art would have for the Harvard arts community in the future.
I’ve seen a new trend in academia towards interdisciplinary study. Students and researchers are discovering that what they understand from within their own fields is deepened and enhanced by the places where their discipline brushes up against others. Counterpoint let us explore interdisciplinary possibilities within the arts. What happens when you mix, say, improvisation and ethereal projection? What happens when you put dancers in the lobby during intermission? What happens if you put both blue body paint and pale pink pointe shoes on the same stage, and what if Harvard student composers set the score?
When we secured the mainstage, we secured a lot of possibilities. The nature of the theater means that anything goes: We now have platforms, a giant bug light and petals falling from the ceiling. Three major student arts groups, along with many talented, independent artists, try a collaboration. Each discipline ends up dovetailing with the next to bring out strengths and hide weaknesses, creating an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I’ll be sitting out our first three shows due to an injury, which means tomorrow I’ll get a front row seat to a performance I’ve known only from the wings. Now I can witness from the audience perspective the start of a great two weeks. It’s also the start of a new perspective I’ve taken up on the arts, and I think I won’t be the only one walking away with it. The possibilities of what can be done with art are like an empty theater. If I let the points of friction between my interests fuel creativity, who knows what will could come out of it?