This piece is a reflection on two artistically revolutionary expressions of modernism: the cubist painting of Pablo Picasso and the early avant garde music of Igor Stravinsky. Specifically, I drew visual and emotional inspiration from certain of Picasso’s cubist renditions of women, including Les Desmoiselles D’avignon (1907), Le Rêve (The Dream) (1932), and Girl before a Mirror (1932). For the music, I used Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) (1913). The dissonant sound of the Rite of Spring was so shocking for the audience at its premiere that it practically caused a riot. Likewise, cubism broke down contemporary aesthetic sensibilities, inviting caustic criticism. These art forms coincided with tremendous cultural and political upheaval; they are inspiring because they manage to not only capture the corresponding historical sentiment, but also transcend it.
For my costume, my goal was not to create a literal imitation of a cubist painting, but instead to evoke a more general visual effect. To do so, I superimposed square and circular mirrors on a black leotard, and I painted my face to suggest the color and geometry of Picasso’s cubist faces. While I used the original version of the music for my piece, I did not use the original choreography that was paired with the music in 1913. Instead, I present original choreography with which I try to convey the emotion that is at the intersection of cubism and neoclassical orchestral music with the vocabulary of contemporary ballet. My work attempts to reflect something that the two modes, visual and auditory, evoke, something that disrupts expectations and disorients - even today.
Alyssa Hubbard (CC ’16) was born in New York City and began dancing ballet at age three. Before college, she trained pre-professionally at the school of the American Ballet Theater. She is now a senior at Columbia College senior studying Classics. Alyssa loves the outdoors and has been a COÖP camper and leader since freshman year. She continues to perform with the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, and currently serves as its executive director.