Approaching the downtown area usually dedicated to the monthly arts festival that is First Night in Columbia, all I saw was quiet and dampness, and worried that organizers had canceled the event. But lights were on at Tapps (the bedrock facility for the event) and inside dancers of the Columbia Classical Ballet were preparing to perform. And they delivered a nice program of short dances, featuring an interesting mix of traditional and modern, to the appreciative, cozy crowd. It was nice to see these young artists up close. I am sure women in the audience were especially delighted with the "Magic Mike" orientation of the Japanese male dancers. Sasha and Lauren were just about the only dancers I knew from the older company, and they performed well in the more traditional opening piece (featuring two pairs). Unfortunately, Zoltan was nowhere to be seen. One Japanese male dancer wearing a long skirt did a really interesting modern piece that was beautiful; he was followed by a peppy Japanese ballerina doing a quirky and delightful piece. The only drawback was the uncooperative cd player; you'd think they would have a better sound system there. But the dancers carried on nevertheless. I wish I knew this young company as well as I did their immediate predecessors, but I think they are a wonderful and beautiful company. The Korean (I think) ballerina who dances is striking and precise, but would love to see her smile a little more (that was one thing I loved about Akari dancing, she just seemed to enjoy every minute out there). I am glad the CCB got to showcase some of their talent and hope there is a good turnout for the upcoming LIFECHANCE (26 January). This event was like a small tasty appetizer, whetting our appetite for the coming attractions. It was also nice to chat with Radenko and Myra for a little bit. I would like to see more dance as part of future First Night events, maybe setting up a larger outside stage (perhaps right on the street) where less-constrained dances can be offered.
There wasn't too much new art, and fewer venues were showing off stuff, which was sad. I did like some photography on display. My friend Fred showed up. The crowds were sparse, especially in comparison to last month, but I hope that does not discourage the artists or sponsors. We need more events like this and we definitely need to support the arts.