From the large resident and touring grand ballet companies to the small start-up performance groups, Bay Area audiences definitely are spoiled when it comes to dance options. While the larger companies depend on a solid mix of the classics and expensive new commissions to establish their brands, the smaller companies often successfully rely on the charisma and talents of a single choreographer.
Company C Contemporary Ballet Artistic Director Charles Anderson has chosen his own direction — the thirteen-member company, named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2010, specializes in works from master choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Val Caniparoli, and Twyla Tharp, including some that are infrequently performed. Then, Anderson adds commissioned works and his own choreography to the repertoire.
For the Spring 2011 program, seen at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Feb. 13, Anderson chose two established works and presented two world premieres. The most anticipated was the world premiere of Indoor Fireworks set to music by New Wave icon Elvis Costello.
Anderson and co-choreographer Benjamin Bowman have crafted an appealing crowd-pleaser that offers individual showcases for the company’s talented classically trained dancers. Winning solos by Chantelle Pianetta and Robert Dekkers highlighted the energetic ensemble work and well-crafted and technically solid duets. My only quibbles with the ballet: it stuck a bit too literally to the song lyrics and the piece ended on a curious down note. Instead of ending with a send-them-out-of-the-theater smiling number, the choreographers chose to conclude the piece and the evening in a more somber manner. The audience, though, seemed ready for Indoor Fireworks to end with the previous section — the familiar “Peace, Love and Understanding” and appeared puzzled by the additional section.
Two company premieres, Pulse (Daniel Ezralow) and the gentle and wistful Appalachia Waltz (James Sewell), opened the program. In Pulse, Ezralow uses a sliding controlled second position to propel the dancers through fleeting encounters, effectively turning the notion of impact choreography on its head. The conceit works — right at the time it looks as if the slide speed should result in a collision, the dancers veer off, missing one another yet again. It is a tribute to the dancers, who all displayed distinct personalities in Indoor Fireworks, that they were able to dance behind a virtual mask, emphasizing Ezralow’s Greek chorus commentary on personal relationships.
The premiere of Maurice Causey’s Ominous Rumblings of Discontent was less clear. The black and gray color scheme, murky lighting, ominous score, dancer vocalizations, and tricky partnering seemed to be on a journey. Just not sure where it was going.
Company C Contemporary Ballet tours locally and performs each of its programs several times throughout the Bay Area. The last performance of the company’s Winter Program will be on Mar. 19 and 20 in Mountain View. This is an engaging company presenting intriguing material. Definitely worth making an effort to see.
Company C Contemporary Ballet
March 19–20, 2011
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: www.mvcpa.com or 650.903.6000