Company C Contemporary Ballet at Z Space, May 4, 2013

28 May

Z Space has a healthy history of dance presentation under its former name of Theatre Artaud, and the house manager smilingly asserts it is the oldest operating artistic cooperative in the United States; it still reveals its former industrial origins. Z Space continues to present dance companies but ballet companies do have problems with entrances and exits.  If a dancer is supposed to bound on stage in a grand jete or a winged arabesque a la the iconic Italian-sculpted statue of  Mercury, problems can arise. Modern dance companies tend to create  works  with such challenges in mind; not so ensembles utilizing pointe shoes.

With a company like Charles Anderson’s Company C Contemporary Ballet which performs in varied venues, such adaptation is not always possible.  Company C, with its roster of fifteen dancers, also has the daunting factor of turnover: one dancer remains from the 2007 season, one from 2009.  Four members joined in 2010, three in 2011 and three, all men, joined this year, making continuity and cohesion the more challenging, particularly concerning collective company memory. The dancers compensate by their earnestness and are doubtless aided by Charles Anderson’s seemingly unflappable qualities.  Longer seasons, of course, would compensate for the turnover.

Each season Anderson tries to include works of a guest choreographer of note, ranging from Anthony Tudor to Twyla Tharp, and, once I believe, Paul Taylor’s Three Epitaphs.  This year Anderson reached into his advisory board and asked Dennis Nahat to mount Ontogeny, his 1970 work for The Royal Swedish Ballet which also was included in American Ballet Theatre’s repertoire at one point.  The revival was partially notable for the role given to Tian Tan and his execution, the floor postures at the opening evoking the starkness and geometric qualities of Mary Wigman and Doris Humphrey’s Life of a Bee.

Prior to the first intermission, Carl Flink’s A Modest Proposal and company member David Van Ligon’s Natoma were danced, and following the second intermission the company performed two Anderson works, For Your Eyes Only and Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, both premiered in 2007.  The first, danced in silence by Chantelle Pianetta, a small, rounded blonde and Bobby Briscoe, tall with sculpted muscles, required a pacing before rigorous lifts, each regarding the other.  I later learned For Your Eyes Only was created for a deaf audience to provide a sense of coordination between two dancers.  Pianetta and Briscoe reflected that requirement.

The entire ensemble pitched to dance the monotonous phrasing of Bolero, dressed in khaki green, with the girls’ costumes sporting bands of glitter and bare midriffs.  They clearly seemed to enjoy themselves, bringing the program to an energetic conclusion.

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