Youth Dancers from Harlem School of the Arts Work with Columbia Students to Prepare for 'Such Sweet Thunder' Performance

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Peck is no stranger to exploring Shakespeare characters through movement. She has choreographed adaptations of Shakespeare plays for the NY Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, The Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Rep, Theater for a New Audience, Classic Stage Company, and Cornerstone Theater Company.

“Shakespeare is visceral and physical,” Peck said. “The language, the complex characters, the imagery. It’s utterly natural to explore these characters and themes through movement to find that authentic, original expression that reaches the heart of a character or reveals the essence of a story.”

The collaboration between Columbia students and city kids follows the CityStep model. Peck hopes that this “pilot project” will lay the groundwork for CityStep Columbia, an ongoing student organization that will continue this work in nearby public schools. CityStep currently thrives at Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale, where students use dance to teach local middle-schoolers creative self-expression and mutual understanding.

“College students are hungry for a way to make a difference,” Peck said. “For these dancers, stepping outside the studio and into the streets shows them the powerful impact that their art can make.”

Below, find photos from a recent rehearsal and improvisation session between Harlem School of the Arts dancers and Columbia students. 

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