Campus & Community

Passing the barre

Feet of a dancer in the “B-Plus” position.

A dancer poses in “B-plus.”

Photos by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

2 min read

Dancers and choreographers find camaraderie while stretching their creativity at Harvard Ballet Company

A dancer stood on stage at Farkas Hall in the “B-plus” position, her back leg bent and big toe on the floor. She was rehearsing for the spring production of Harvard Ballet Company (HBC), a student-run group that feted its 25th anniversary last year. The 50-member company’s biannual performances fuse classical and contemporary dance and feature the choreography of students, alumni, and guest artists.

The spring show’s theme was searching. Mara Milner ’20, an HBC board member and co-director who studies social studies and economics at Harvard, said a show celebrating women is in the works for fall.

Milner contrasts the “familial atmosphere” of her troupe with an industry often characterized as “extremely cutthroat and competitive.”

“We share jokes and endless laughing … and genuinely love spending time together,” she said, adding that the dancers “stand in the wings during shows cheering each other on.”

At HBC, Milner has done a little of everything, from running auditions to doing makeup. She’s even worked as a tech producer, wielding a radial arm saw and pneumatic wrench. “You get to touch every aspect of production at a student-run ballet.”

Dancers Mara Milner and Anna Antongiorgi rehearse.
Mara Milner and Anna Antongiorgi sit at a table with laptops during a break.

Anna Antongiorgi ’19 rehearses. She fits in some classwork during a break with Mara Milner.

Isabelle Jaffe ’19 (left) and Annabel Yao ’20 perform an arabesque during rehearsal on the Farkas Hall stage.

Dancers extend one leg in the air, arms outstretched.
Three dancers pose with arms outstretched.
Aurelia Han ’22 (from left), choreographer Sarah Chou from Wellesley College, and Milner rehearse a piece designed by Chou.

Yao (from left), Laura Sky Herman ’19, Jaffe, Erin Aslami ’22, and Olivia Sison ’21 form a tableau.

Five dancers pose with arms and legs outstretched.
Dancers practice upper-body positions.
Dancers arch forward with arms stretching back.

Sison (left) and Herman move in formation; Yao (left) and Aslami arch forward with arms stretching back.

Isabelle Jaffe holds her arms out at different angles.
Jaffe holds a port de bras.
Dancers form a line raising arms.
Isabelle Jaffe practices a tendu back lunge.

Choreographer Ana Maria Delmar ’21 (left) instructs dancers on upper-body positions. Jaffe practices a tendu back lunge.

Detail of ballet dancers placing feet in fourth position.
Dancers place their feet in fourth position, which is key for pirouetting.