Contemporary ballet

Compagnie C Contemporary Ballet: Pulse, Appalachia Waltz, Ominous Rumblings Of Discontent, Indoor Fireworks

David Van Ligon, Chantelle Pianetta & Jackie McConnell in Charles Anderson and Benjamin Bowman’s Indoor fireworks.
[Photo by David DeSilva]

From large resident and touring ballet companies to small start-up performance groups, Bay Area audiences are definitely spoiled when it comes to dance options. While large companies depend on a strong mix of classics and expensive new commissions to establish their brands, smaller companies often rely successfully on the charisma and talents of a single choreographer.

C Contemporary Ballet’s artistic director, Charles Anderson, has chosen his own direction — the thirteen-member company, named one of the dance review2010’s 25 to Watch specializes in works by master choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Val Caniparoli and Twyla Tharp, some of which are rarely performed. Then Anderson adds commissioned works and her own choreography to the repertoire.

For the Spring 2011 program, seen at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on February 13, Anderson chose two established works and presented two world premieres. The most anticipated was the world premiere of Indoor fireworks set to music by new wave icon Elvis Costello.

Chantelle Pianetta, Compagnie C Contemporary Ballet: Interior fireworks

Chantelle Pianetta in Charles Anderson and Benjamin Bowman Indoor fireworks.
[Photo by David DeSilva]

Anderson and co-choreographer Benjamin Bowman have created an audience appeal that provides one-on-one showcases for the company’s talented classically trained dancers. Chantelle Pianetta and Robert Dekkers’ winning solos highlighted energetic ensemble work and well-crafted, technically sound duos. My only complaint with the ballet: it stuck a little too literally to the lyrics of the song and the piece ended on a curious falling note. Instead of ending with a smiling number to be sent out of the theater, the choreographers chose to conclude the play and the evening in a darker way. The public, however, seemed ready for Indoor fireworks to end with the previous section – the familiar “Peace, Love and Understanding” and seemed perplexed by the additional section.

Two company premieres, Impulse (Daniel Ezralow) and the sweet and melancholy Appalachian Waltz (James Sewell), opened the program. In Impulse, Ezralow uses a sliding-controlled second position to propel dancers through fleeting encounters, subverting the notion of impact choreography. The conceit works – just when it looks like sliding speed should lead to a collision, the dancers pull away, missing each other yet again. It is a tribute to the dancers, who have all displayed distinct personalities in Indoor fireworks, that they were able to dance behind a virtual mask, underscoring Ezralow’s Greek Chorus commentary on personal relationships.

The premiere of Maurice Causey Ominous growls of displeasure was less clear. The black and gray color scheme, the murky lighting, the eerie score, the vocalizations of the dancers and the delicate partnerships seemed to be on a journey. I didn’t quite know where it was going.


C Contemporary Ballet tours locally and performs each of its programs multiple times throughout the Bay Area. The last performance of the company’s winter program will take place March 19 and 20 in Mountain View. This is an engaging company featuring intriguing material. Definitely worth the effort to see.

Company C Contemporary Ballet
March 19 and 20, 2011
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: or 650.903.6000

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