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Joanna G. Harris
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Fort Mason Center for the Arts
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Company C Contemporary Ballet - Spring Program

by Joanna G. Harris
April 28, 2012
Fort Mason Center for the Arts
38 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-3400
Joanna G. Harris
Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Charles Anderson's Company C keeps growing and going about trying new, complex choreographic challenges. For this year's Spring Program Anderson presented not only his own work but that of choreographers James Sewell, Peter Anastos and Gregory Dawson. Of them all, Anderson's work was by far the most innovative and well-performed.

In Anderson's "Return: A Triumph of Reason II," set to music by American composer Morton Subotnik, dancers Kristin Lindsay and David Van Ligonthe performed a haunting duet indicating intimacy not realized and relatedness accepted but not accomplished. Dramatically lit by Patrick Toebe and cleverly costumed by Jan Berletti and Lynn Rothenberger, the duet was most pleasing in its stop and go dynamics and beautifully shaped designs.

Next, the opening number Anderson's "The Song Remains the Same", set to music by Led Zeppelin, displayed the talents of Chantelle Pianetta in "Black Dog", a jazzy "show-off" number. It was followed by "Rock and Roll", a dance that highlighted the swift skill and splendid footwork of Oliver Freeston. In the work's finale, "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" Pianetta and Freeston joined forces for a flirtatious escapade. While both dancers were very skilled in the work, Pianetta's dancing would benefit more if she related more to her lively partner.

James Sewell's "Late" was a pleasant tour-de-force duo for dancers Jackie McConnell and Michael Galloway, both very skilled in mime and movement. The dancers gave the audience great fun as they portrayed the usual anxiety of waiting for reluctant partner.

The company was in top form also for "Footage," Peter Anastos' nostalgic piece to English dance hall music. In the opening number "Astaire", Oliver Freeston was the guy in tails waiting for the right female partner. As the girls emerged, he wooed each of them and finally got star Edilsa Armendariz. As charming and lively as this work was, it struck this viewer with a problem of contemporary ballet today: men are smaller and women have grown taller. Perhaps, since this piece is built around social dance styles, toe shoes could be abandoned so the heights even out and the lovely long swooping lines could prevail.

The evening's final work, "which light in the sky is us?" by Gregory Dawson set to music by Ben Juodvalkis and Moses Sedler, left me confused. Men in scanty trunks and women in leotards moved, mostly in the dark, to Sedler's "Adagio for Strings Trio," a rather morbid piece of music. It was difficult to find a through-line. The work began and ended with light circles that moved across the stage followed by some interplay with molded circles which served as tutu skirts worn by the men and women. There were also changes of costumes (the men wore short skirts for a while), but all in all, unclear. Rounding out the work, "Luminescent Shower" seemed to involve a hysterical breakdown. It was followed by "The Seductive Glimmer" danced by Kristin Lindsay, but again the dance's intent was not clear.

All of Company C's dancers are to be applauded for their valiant efforts in the work, but the piece needs fixing. For this viewer, a more varied and thoughtful movement vocabulary, omitting the endless high kicks, pirouettes and extended leaps might help this as well as all contemporary ballet works to further the art of dance.

Congratulations to Charles Anderson for his ten years of guiding Company C to new levels of dance performance.
Tian Tan, David Van Ligon, Chantelle Pianetta, Kristin Lindsay in Gregory Dawson's 'which light in the sky is us?

Tian Tan, David Van Ligon, Chantelle Pianetta, Kristin Lindsay in Gregory Dawson's
"which light in the sky is us?

Photo © & courtesy of David DeSilva

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