The show will go on for Company C Contemporary Ballet next year, but not as a repertory dance troupe with a regular season of performances at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts and other Bay Area venues, the company's artistic director, Charles Anderson, announced this week.
The 12-year-old professional chamber company, which has won local and national accolades for presenting diverse, contemporary works, is undertaking a "shift" in its performance model that will focus on single projects, such as a Halloween ballet, slated to premiere in October 2015, and a one-day dance carnival in San Francisco in the summer of 2015. Anderson announced the changes, which include not renewing the contracts of its 14 dancers when the season ends in May, at its winter program "Edge and Entertainment" at the Lesher Center Thursday to Saturday. The program, which included two world premieres, repeats next weekend at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.
Anderson, who co-founded the company, wouldn't describe this shift as scaling back operations, but he acknowledged that the decision to give up a regular performance season in 2015 is in part due to ongoing funding challenges.
Other factors also dictated this new direction, Anderson said. The company's co-founder and executive director, Elizabeth Reed, recently announced her retirement, effective June 30. And Anderson, a former member of the New York City Ballet, said he has long wanted to pursue other artistic and choreographic projects and collaborations without being tied to specific seasonal dates or venues.
"We're revising and changing, we're not ending anything," Anderson said. "We hope people will come along with us. I'm extremely proud of our dancers and the works we've put up. I think we've built up enough trust for 12 years that people will support these new ventures."
In a news release, Reed said her retirement "has been a difficult and long-contemplated decision." Anderson added that he, the company's board of directors and artistic collaborators, believe that a project-based model makes sense for the company. "This will allow me, the board of directors, our artists and collaborators the greatest flexibility in creating offerings that are artistically satisfying and serve our audiences while maintaining the standards we have established in 12 years of successful operations."
Anderson said the Halloween ballet and the dance carnival are enormous undertakings, but he hopes they will become popular annual events that will help the company offset costs of any other future projects. He describes the strategy as similar to the way dance companies often rely on their annual "Nutcracker" productions to support the rest of their seasons.
Since its launch in 2002, the company has licensed works from such contemporary masters as Antony Tudor, Twyla Tharp, Daniel Ezralow and Lar Lubovitch, while also commissioning more than 40 world premieres. Performing at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center and in other Bay Area venues, the company in 2010 was named one of "25 to Watch" by Dance Magazine and has been nominated for seven Isadora Duncan Awards, which honor Bay Area dance artists.
The company program this weekend at the Lesher Center included what this newspaper's critic, Ann Murphy, called the "musically stormy" and athletic "Weather One," a world premiere by former American Ballet Theatre ballerina Susan Jaffe, and the "brooding and often beautiful" "Railroad Joint" by Yuri Zhukov. The company will repeat the program Feb. 13 to 16 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco and plans a spring program, "Adjusting the Lens," to be performed at the ODC Theater in San Francisco April 25 to May 3 and at the Lesher Center May 5 to 11.
Presents world premiere by Susan Jaffe
When and where: 8 p.m. Feb. 13 to 14 and 3 p.m. Feb. 16 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; special gala performance at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at YBCA
Tickets: $25 to $48, 415-978-2782, www.ybca.org