Review: A Look Into The InterstellOrchesis Universe

Orchesis, Columbia University’s largest student dance group, hosted a spaced-themed showcase this year.

Photography by Sherry Chen

On Friday April 5th, Columbia’s largest student-run dance group, Orchesis, hosted its semesterly showcase in Roone Arledge Auditorium — this semester called “InterstellOrchesis.” With 14 full-length pieces and five interludes, Orchesis’ hour-long show ended up being quite a production, raising the question: what goes on behind the scenes to make such a show come to life?

“All of board goes through an extensive process of picking the show theme from a long list of title options submitted by any of our dancers and choreographers,” says Grace Petrusek (BC ‘25), administrator on Orchesis’ Executive Board. “We think of how the show title rolls off the tongue, what interlude songs it would entail, and how the photoshoots and shirts will look!”

Short interludes between dances — “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys, “ET” by Katy Perry, “Alien Superstar” by Beyoncé, and “Venus” by Lady Gaga — helped weave in the spirit of space, as well as the full-cast finale to Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” Aside from uniting the show through its chosen theme, interludes provided a cushion for dancers in consecutive pieces, giving them a chance to change outfits or take a breather. 

As highlighted in the Executive Board speech at the beginning of the show, inclusivity serves as Orchesis’ guiding principle. This is not only demonstrated with group’s no-cut approach to auditioning and casting, but also through the variety of the pieces showcased.

Choreographed by Layla Hussain (CC ‘26), the opening number, “Dem Beats,” set the bar high with its upbeat energy and precise movements. Shortly following was “American Bitch,” a crowd favorite choreographed by Elaje Lopez (CC ‘24), which held the audience rapt with a musical theater-esque style and high-energy from the dancers. “Step in Time,” choreographed by Tal Bloom (BC ‘26) and Madeleine Rosenthal (BC ‘26), and “Bennie and the Jets,” choreographed by Lucy Kudlinski (BC ‘24) and Isa Farfan (BC ‘24), brought the audience back in time with their inspired choreography and spectacular costuming. Pieces like “View Between Villages” (Kira Ferdyn, BC ‘26), “Let the Light In” (Mei Protzel, BC ‘26), and “Snow Angel” (Breanna Ellison, CC ‘26) provided an ethereal, introspective change of pace. “Girls Against God” stood out among the slower pieces, with dancers meticulously crafting their movement as led by choreographer Romane Lavandier (BC ‘24).

With its timely music choice (occurring only a week after the release of Beyoncé’s wildly anticipated album “Cowboy Carter”) and complex hip-hop choreography, Effy Jo’s (BC ‘24) piece “Sweet Dreams” was the highlight of the show. Dressed in a coordinated wardrobe of denim, black, and white, the advanced cast was a powerhouse on stage. Dancers whirled, crawled, flipped, and whipped their hair — all to the raucous audience’s cheers.

Isabel McFarland (BC ‘26) provides insight into the rehearsal process that took place between casting and show day. This semester was unusual for Orchesis, as choreographers and dancers only had about eight weeks of rehearsals before the show. It was “one of [their] quickest turnarounds,” with many choreographers even opting to hold rehearsals over spring break. Despite the limited rehearsals and abridged tech week, McFarland says “the show came together very smoothly for the shows.” 

With two shows at 7:00pm and 9:30pm, the cast and crew had to keep the energy up. According to McFarland, the first show tends to garner a small crowd in comparison to the packed later show, but this semester, both sold around 400 tickets and were packed with “much Orchy spirit.” 

Though the show is now over, Orchesis is not slowing down, and it’s not too late to get involved! McFarland “looks forward to hosting a formal on April 27th, along with masterclasses that anyone can attend during reading week!”

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