Company C’s Winter Program, Yerba Buena Center, February 14

20 Feb

Charles Anderson strode across the Lam Theatre Stage to welcome the audience and to inform it he is switching the 12-year dance organization format to special projects. This means furloughing dancers, most of whom have danced with the company at most 2 seasons; only one joined in 2009. The dancers as a whole seem more uniform in overall body builds as well as better dancers, making layoffs more daunting.

Anderson has a plan to mount a Hallowe’en production which he’d like to see become an annual event. If the premiere is this fall, then the spring layoff won’t be too drastic if the dancers are able to stick around. The second plan is to stage an international dance festival. The way Anderson speaks of it sounds like a different version of Micaya’s amazing Hip-Hop Festival. As such, such a vision sounds very much in need of some assistance from practiced visa facilitators like the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Visa clearance is a daunting process, particularly since 9/11.

The winter repertoire comprised five short ballets, three premieres, Yuri Zhukov, Anderson, Susan Jaffe; two revivals, one by Anderson, the other by Charles Moulton, his noted Nine Person Precision Ball Passing.

Yuri Zhukov’s Railroad Joint opened the program to Scott Morgan’s Lake Orchard. Seven dancers started lined up like waiting passengers down stage right. Blasting sounds of a locomotive, and the repetitive turn of metal wheels on metal rails dominated. The dancers seemed to be waiting for a train or subway, but there was little sense any gave of boarding the train except they lurched individually. There seemed attempts to dash from one platform or one train schedule or not. Rather than clear patterns of leaving, crossing and boarding another train, the action was careful plotted, individualized passing making more sense to me with a Grand Central montage behind it. For the finale, Yuri brought the seven back to their original position.

Anderson’s premiere, Between the Machine, featured Sarah Nyfield and guest Aaron Orza in Laura Hazlett’s glittering gold, semi-mechanized togs. Competently danced, it was nice to see Orza’s strength as a partner still being utilized.

Nine Person Precision Ballet Passing with its three tiers of three dancers, again in simple Laura Hazlett designs is both devastatingly simple and totally complicated; a ball for each dancer, exchanging first between the other two on the same platform, top tier and bottom tier mirroring each other, over under, everything short of down and under. Then the exchange between middle and upper, upper and lower begins; arms wave like so many flags, interweave between the three levels to the simple bouncy music of A. Leroy. The audience relished it; so did I.

After the intermission Anderson’s A Night in Tunisia, premiered in 2002, provided us with music by David Balakrishnan and David Anger, performed by the Turtle Island String Quartet. Clearly Balakrishnan gave the Quartet selections influenced by the North Indian musical tradition. Eight dancers, including guest Barry Kerollis, danced a work demonstrating nothing near its title. With its beguiling music, it was so vertical, a sexual, and lacking even in ye olde cliches that reconciling title and visual reality was quite a stretch.

Another intermission ensued before Susan Jaffe’s choreography,Weather One to the first movement of Michael Gordon’s Weather, half lighting by Patrick Toebe, danced in Laura Hazlett’s almost unitards of greys and blacks. The scurrying and effects of weather were conveyed within the ballet conventions of solo, pas de deux, pas de trois, pad de quatre and ensemble finale. I somehow expected a thread of plot and more shivers than ponte shoes and classical vocabulary conveyed. I would need to see the work a second time to see if first impressions were solid ones.
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