Princeton University Ballet Prepares for NYC Debut

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Princeton University Ballet is collaborating with student groups from Columbia and Harvard in a pair of New York City performances this weekend. (Photo: Courtesy Princeton University Ballet)

On Feb. 15 and 16, Princeton University Ballet (PUB) will take part in the first Ivy Ballet Exchange, a collaborative performance between ballet companies at Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard. Hosted in Columbia’s Miller Theatre, this will be PUB’s first performance off of the Princeton campus since the student-run organization was founded in 2008.

“We are performing for a much larger audience and performing in a much larger theater; we don’t really know what to expect, but we want to put forth our best,” said Jiae Azad ’15, vice president of PUB and a contributing choreographer for PUB’s pieces in the program. “We’re really emphasizing cleaning the pieces, making them the best we can, [and] representing what PUB is in the best way possible.” 

PUB dancers are excited to perform in the collaborative show. Due to the small size of the dance community, meeting with the other collegiate companies will be part introduction, part reunion. The move to New York has also drummed up excitement among PUB alumni. 

“Many of our alumni live in New York because it’s a great dance hub, so even if they’re working other jobs, they can still access classes or watch performances,” said Caroline Hearst ’14, president of PUB. “We’re kind of meeting them where they are instead of asking them to come to campus, and that’s exciting to them.” 

Performing onstage in New York City for a largely non-Princeton audience will present distinct challenges for a group that usually performs in the Frist Film/Performance Theater. “The size of the Miller Theatre is over 600 seats and Frist is 200, so there are a lot more eyes on stage. Little moments when we’re not exactly in sync in Frist get washed up with the intimacy of the performance and how fast things seem to go by when they’re right in front of your eyes,” Hearst said. “We have to slow down and fix those little details for Miller because we’re more visible and seen from many more angles.” 

The student planners for the Exchange have also had to handle offstage details, such as lodging in New York. But the hardest thing, Hearst said, was choosing the pieces that best represent the Princeton group. PUB has been rehearsing them for the entire fall semester. 

“It’s something we’ve had our minds on for months,” Hearst said. “After all of this energy has been put in for the event, the most rewarding thing will be performing.”

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