San Francisco is the hub of all things sophisticated in local dance, or so goes the conventional wisdom.
That might explain why Charles Anderson’s Walnut Creek-based Company C Contemporary Ballet — which presents a program of new works and a gala event in San Francisco this weekend — has remained, unfortunately, somewhat under the radar.
No one should doubt Anderson’s bona fides.
The son of San Francisco Ballet principal dancer David Anderson and soloist Zola Dishong, he received full scholarships to the S.F. Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and School of American Ballet, and joined the New York City Ballet at age 20.
But his curiosity and his parents’ encouragement to explore all the arts serves as inspiration for his vision of what ballet can be in the 21st century.
He says, “Everything from the way you use your feet to the relationships onstage [has changed]. The whole way of relating is different and contemporary.”
A curator as much as a choreographer, he invites work from both celebrated and emerging artists.
“There is really fantastic work out there. I’ll see pieces that some of the smaller companies want to do but don’t have the resources for. So when I put an evening together I want something that is passionate and something that tests my mind a little and something that’s just beautiful.”
Anderson’s talent for producing emotionally engaging and technically stunning programs appealing to broad audiences brought the company to a milestone 10th anniversary in 2012.
How will he top that? “By doing the opposite of what we’ve done before — mostly world premieres. It’s a nightmare of logistics and it’s costly, but also very exciting.”
Brian Reeder’s “Being Served,” set to music by Benjamin Britten, is a darkly humorous and touching ballet about a dinner party gone wrong.
Patrick Corbin’s “For Use in Subhuman Primates Only,” set to the music of English trip-hop band Massive Attack, demonstrates how some people in the club scene anesthetize themselves in order to feel anything at all.
Anderson’s “Polyglot” features dialogue from actress Amy Walker. “She does fantastic accents and can roll from one to another so that you don’t even know when she’s changing from French to Russian,” Anderson says. “The tone and rhythm was very interesting. I wondered if I could get dancers to move through different styles of dance as effortlessly.” Walker’s text plays with the question of how we are perceived. “Am I who I am or am I just my accent?”
Company C Contemporary Ballet
- Where: LAM Research Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F.
- When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
- Tickets: $23 to $45
- Contact: (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org
- Note: Saturday’s gala program – with Anderson’s “For Your Eyes Only,” “For Use in Subhuman Primates” and a premiere by Yuri Zhukov – is followed by dinner and festivities at 7:30 p.m. at the W Hotel, 81 Third St., S.F.