Company C Contemporary Ballet, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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Company C Contemporary Ballet
Lesher Center for the Arts
Walnut Creek, Calif. (Jan. 20 and 21, 2012)
Program repeats at Center for the Arts, Castro Valley, Calif. (Jan. 28 and 29)
and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (Feb. 17-19)

Charles Anderson and Company C Contemporary Ballet are celebrating 10 years of Bay Area performances this season. The young, delightful group will be seen in January and February as they present the work of four choreographers: Alexandre Proia, David Grenke, Peter Anastos and Anderson himself.

The company consists of 13 young dancers, most of them American born and trained. Their enthusiasm in performing, their athleticism and energy provide support for the range of work they are called upon to execute. Each of the four choreographers gives them another kind of challenge.

The best example is “Vespers,” a duet by David Grenke for Jackie McConnell and Oliver Freeston, during which McConnell barely responds to Freeston’s efforts to move her; she remains limp and floppy throughout. Freeston lifts, caresses and carries her with amazing skill; she moves in response passively, yet adjusts skillfully. Anderson remarked that the work was inspired by watching a Paul Taylor dancer at work. Evidence of that style was mastered here.

The Company Premiere was “Footage,” by Peter Anastos, an entertainment in the style of an Astaire-Rogers film. There was plenty of swoop and sway as the company members (men in tails, ladies in long pink dresses) danced the numbers — sometimes romantic, sometimes spikey, elegant, and stylish, but always with a dash of humor. The choreographer was a founding member of the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo; several humorous episodes (including one crossover with a dog!) are evidenced in Anastos’ efforts at tripping the light-fantastic. The excellent music selections were old recordings by the Jack Hylton Orchestra, a pre-WWII British band. Freeston, the star of “Vespers,” was also the soloist and hero of “Footage.”

Anderson’s choreography for his Company C, “Akimbo,” was in five sections and stressedbent, bowed and arched positions. Michael Galloway and Tian Tan were outstanding in section three, “White Man Sleeps #5.” The entire ensemble gave us a range of fascinating movements to illustrate “Akimbo.”

The opening number, “A World to Come,” was a quartet for Edilsa Armendariz, Kevin Hockenberry, Megan Steffens, and Jeffrey Ware. Their lively energy in this 2004 number by Alexandre Proia set the standard for a fine evening.

Other company members are: Laura Dunlop, Chantelle Pianetta, David Van Ligon, Kristin Lindsay and Calvin Thomas. Under the direction of Charles Anderson, Company C is surely on its way to refreshing the Bay Area’s ballet scene.

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