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I profiled Company C Contemporary Ballet founder Charles Anderson for today’s Chronicle:

“In a studio in Walnut Creek, a large man wearing jeans and sneakers stands before a group of lithe, chiseled dancers. “I like the attack,” he says, throwing his full weight into a jump, “but keep it natural.” When Charles Anderson demonstrates, his movement is expansive and graceful.

A stranger meeting Anderson on the street wouldn’t guess that the big, jovial 43-year-old possesses a formidable ballet pedigree: His father is a former San Francisco Ballet principal, his mother a soloist. And even someone familiar with Anderson’s eight years performing with New York City Ballet, and his reputation as one of the West Coast’s most respected ballet teachers, probably wouldn’t have thought, six and a half years ago, that his Company C Contemporary Ballet would become such a success.

After all, Anderson had virtually no budget and two months’ prep time in late 2002, when a manager at San Francisco’s Cowell Theater, looking to fill a cancellation, asked him to get some dancers together and put on a show. He had no staff, no funding and only his own choreography to stage. And really, did the Bay Area need another ballet company?

As it happens, the Bay Area did. The 13-member Company C, which will perform in Walnut Creek and San Francisco during the coming month, doesn’t just offer committed, attractive young dancers. It also offers dance works – some masterpieces, some simply delightful – not danced by other California companies.

“My feeling is San Francisco is saturated with dance of all kinds, and you have to bring something else to the table,” Anderson says after rehearsal, his blue eyes still boyish against pale skin and red hair. “As great as San Francisco Ballet is, there are a ton of great works that aren’t in its purview for whatever reason.”

The acquisitions were gradual. But, tapping his East Coast connections and his broad taste, Anderson began assembling a repertory of rare stature and eclecticism for a chamber troupe. A 2008 program juxtaposed Antony Tudor’s wrenching, too seldom performed 1937 landmark “Dark Elegies” with David Parson’s zany 1986 caper “The Envelope.” Other programs have showcased everyone from modern dance living legend Paul Taylor to razzle-dazzle ballet showman Michael Smuin.

Then, in April, came the coup. After previously acquiring two well-known Twyla Tharp works, Company C gave the world premiere of a Tharp ballet that the famously prolific choreographer created years ago but then forgot about. ”

Click here for the rest of the story.

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