Dance Community Finally Moving Center Stage

Main Stage Show Raises Profile for Underappreciated Dancers on Campus

There will be no dying swans, no fluffy tutus, no dancing snowflakes. There will be techno, body sculpture and moving lights. And there will be history made, as for only the second time in 21 years, a dance production occupies one of the two coveted undergrad slots on the Loeb Main Stage this theatrical season.

Against the Grain, directed by Shelby Braxton-Brooks ‘03 and Anna Weiss ’03, is what the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) has chosen to kick off its fall season. The production features four pieces, three of them original: “Still Rising,” choreographed by Braxton-Brooks; “Into Emptiness,” choreographed by Ryuji Yamaguchi ’03; “Warning: This May Cause,” choreographed by professional guest choreographer Derrick Sellers; and excerpts from George Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments,” directed by Weiss.

Performing in the 556-seat Loeb is a big step for Harvard’s dance community, which for years has struggled to find both visibility and adequate space on campus. Venues such as the Adams Pool Theater, the Agassiz, Lowell Lecture Hall, the Pudding and even the soon-to-be-revamped Reiman Dance Center all lack the spatial dimensions and technical capability necessary for rehearsing and performing large dance productions.


“Loeb is the only proscenium theatre in town that is appropriate for dance,” says Elizabeth Bergmann, Director of Dance at the Office for the Arts (OFA) and senior lecturer in the Folklore and Mythology department.

The problem, Bergmann says, is not lack of interest, but that many supportive administrators don’t seem to know how to address the difficulties facing the dance community. They must wonder, she explains, “How do you help get more space when there’s so much demand for space?”

Last year, a group of six Harvard undergraduates thought they had found a solution. Encouraged by the immense success of the first main stage dance show in 1999, Perpetual Motion, which amassed a collective audience of over 2000, these students, who comprised the Steering Committee on Dance, took action.

In May of 2000, the Committee presented college administrators with “Dance at Harvard,” a proposal illustrating the plight of the dance community and requesting the addition to the season of a fifth main stage reserved for dance. According to Yamaguchi, who is a Steering Committee member, though administrators at first rejected the proposal, the matter may still be under consideration.

In the meantime, as some members of the dance community are reluctant to request a permanent slot in the HRDC’s limited two-show main stage season, directors of potential dance productions continue to seek access to the mainstage through the application procedure.