Tag Archives: Aaron Orza

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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Diablo Ballet’s Three Premieres November 17

22 Nov

Artistic Director Lauren Jonas possesses a healthy amount of taste; it certainly was on display for Diablo Ballet’s fall performances at Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.  You can also include in that estimate a capacity for wide variety for the dances seen November 16-17 ranged from an extended erotic pas de deux to Jose Limon’s inconic The Moor’s Pavane, ending with Sean Kelly’s commissioned work, A Swingin’ Holiday for four couples and a sizeable swing orchestra.

David Fonnegra was responsible for mounting Vicente Nebrada’s three part Scriabin offering Lento a Tempo e Appassionata played by Roy Bogas with his usual reliable panache.  Fonnegra partnered Hiromi Yamazaki, one of the Bay Area natives who danced elsewhere before returning to the Bay Area.  In the first third, as well as the other two, the pair kept pivoting around each other, the spiral modulating into a supported plunging arabesque, some variation of fish dive, or a left to the shoulder or grand jete aloft which rapidly assumed a different posture, invariably with beautiful finishes in the port de bras.

The middle section saw Yamazaki and Fonnegra separate physically only to rush towards each other to accomplish a spectacular climax to the musical phrase.  When it came to Appassionnato, you got it, rushes together separately, turns and spins of great urgency, concluding on the stage floor intertwined. It was a  major partnering job for Fonnegra and plenty of spacial daring required of Yamazaki, both expertly realized their demands.

After a pause the curtains parted on a reprise of Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane to the music of Henry Purcell, music more popularly recognized as used by Jerome Robbins.  Just four dancers, a swirling red robe for Derek Sakakura as The Moor,  striking sinister hues of mustard for His Friend, interpreted by Robert Dekkers.  Mounted by Gary Masters, the Moor’s Wife was
danced by Heather Cooper and His Friend’s Wife by Maria Basile, both guesting from SjDance Co, headed by Masters.  Mounting this iconic modern dance work is a major event anywhere.

In the Lucas Hoving role, Dekkers came close to the wily deadpan which creates such a sinister aura within the formal structure, where the four dance together, then the men, then the couples, the quartet and all too soon the Moor is tormented into his fatal action.  As noted elsewhere, the quartet dances towards one another,  rather than to the audience.

Sakakura, his chest too large for the costume, conveyed a cooler Moor than one might expect, although his anguish toward the end was plain, having danced it twice before and thus the  opportunity to grow in the portrayal.  Technically quite adequate, I felt I was seeing a Moor with samurai training.

Cooper and Basile both brought maturity to their roles, Basile’s use of her persimmon velvet skirts taunting, flirtatious, a smirk on her face more open to persuasion than the oblique smile of Pauline Koner, while Cooper’s Wife was even more neutral than remembered with Betty Jones.  If Moor’s Pavane goes to Diablo Ballet’s  San Jose and Hillbarn engagements in the spring, it will be interesting to see how the interpretations evolve in this engrossing, classic work.

Following intermission the program closed with Sean Kelly’s A Swingin’ Holiday, utilizing four couples, highly colored zoot suits for the men, ‘Thirties glamour for the women and a fifteen piece orchestra to blare the music hyped up swing era style. The dancers rose to the stylistic challenge ably; it was very nice to see Aaron Orza back on stage since departing San Francisco Ballet.

Kelly created dances appropriate to the music, but a unifying thread was missing, leaving the pas de huit with a series of dances, entrances, greetings and then minor vignettes leaving the impression that strangers had gathered in a night club or dive, but essentially were unconnected.