Modern dance, milk chugging, and audience involvement promise to be a part of the CoLab Spring Showcase this Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26. The 13-performance evening will kick off at 7:30 p.m. in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre, better known as the Diana Black Box.
“We’re a performance art collective, and we try to bring together Barnard, Columbia artists from different fields to create work,” CoLab President Katie Stricker, BC ’11, said. Stricker is double majoring in dance and Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and was part of CoLab’s founding group three years ago, along with current co-leader Candace Tabb, BC ’11.
Those different fields include live music and visual arts. “This semester has been very dance-heavy,” Stricker said, but the weekend’s performance will still include a cellist, a singer, and a slide projection compiled by a student visual artist.
CoLab is unique in that it has a come-one-come-all policy. Rachel Turner, CC ’13 and a dance major concentrating in physics, said, “You get to see a lot of things from a lot of different people who might not normally be involved. I think it’s less scary than other groups where you have to audition.”
Since this showcase is less multi-medium than others, though, Stricker has tailored her goals: “I hope that the audience can see what dance might encompass and how it might be a much bigger genre than they would think.”
Stricker created a work titled “International Dance Show Extravaganza” for this weekend’s show. “It’s an ironic work that I say works in multi-medium performance art,” Stricker said, “so it mixes the combination of everyday gesture with minimalist dance movement—minimal dance movement—and an accumulation of costuming into a work.” This is also the piece that will feature milk drinking.
“That was kind of my last manifesto to what performance art might be and what it might be,” Stricker said, in explanation of her perhaps odd-sounding piece. “Since CoLab is a quote performance art collective, I was kind of questioning what that entailed.”
“Collective” includes more traditional dance, too. Turner is mostly trained in ballet and will perform a self-choreographed, modern solo to “I’ll Try Anything Once” by The Strokes.
Yet she still finds value in the group’s diversity. “Twice each semester, we have showings where everyone comes together and shows what they’re working on, and then everyone gives feedback,” Turner said. “Even though I’m doing this very dance-y piece, I’m getting ideas from people who have different backgrounds.”
This is one way that CoLab, despite its mantra of inclusivity and experimentation, still attempts to find cohesion. Taryn McGovern, BC ’13, a dance major who performed in her first CoLab showcase last spring, concisely captured both sides of what the group offers. “As a choreographer, it’s great to have that space where you can create something that wouldn’t necessarily fit with any other group or performance,” she said. “It’s also just a really nice community.”
McGovern, like Turner, will be doing a self-choreographed modern solo, in which she explores the tension between opposites like sacred versus profane. She will also dance in two other pieces: one in vignette form and one that she “can’t say that much about other than it will be unexpected.”
Unexpected seems to define much of what CoLab does. “We don’t really like our audience to be idly watching … so there are usually some surprises involved,” Stricker said. She cited Tabbs’ fall piece as an example: It incorporated book passages that audience members were asked to read themselves. “I think it’s fun seeing people’s reactions. Some people really are excited to do it, some people not so much,” Stricker said, laughing.
She couldn’t reveal any of the surprises for this weekend, so students interested in being active audience members will have to find out for themselves.