It seemed to have warmed up a bit as the boys and I walked out of the Koger Center on Saturday night, no doubt a result of the hot dancing that went on inside as the Columbia Classical Ballet presented its annual Lifechance performance, this year supporting the Ray Tanner Foundation. What a smooth, delightful selection of dances. I was left wanting more---especially of Brooklyn Mack, our local dancing treasure, who enthralled his audience, as always. Not only did he participate in the larger group dances, but his short interpretive dance (I guess it is called) was beautiful as well. Columbia loves Brooklyn and you can feel the crowd buzz when he steps on to the stage. I don’t know most of the new dancers in this year’s rather large company, though there are a few old favorites such as Zoltan Boros, Sasha Vykhrest, and Matthew Waters. The company seems to have a decidedly Asian representation, with dancers from China, Japan, and Korea. The ballerinas were beautiful and lovely to watch, and the men were great too. There was a tall dancers who very much reminded me of Akari Manabe, who I much miss seeing dance, as well as many of the former dancers (who have now scattered all over the globe).
Some of last night’s dances were extremely nice. I really liked the fluidity of Tamas Krizsa and Maki Onuki’s “Together Apart.” Although Lasha Khozashvili looked too skinny to pull it off, he showed great strength and agility lifting and then moving the beautiful Lia Cirio (who has been a regular at Lifechance over the last few years), so she seemed to be floating, in “Giselle.” I especially enjoyed the modern piece (choreographed by Simone Cuttino), with the men barechested and wearing dark flowing skirts, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it too. If I had any criticism it would have been nice to have a few different backdrops.
After admission there was a cute short featuring CCB dancers, not listed on the program I don’t think, featuring six in a comedy skit of gender-bending. Joey looked at me and said, “You wouldn’t get me out there doing that one.” But the crowd enjoyed it. In another dance, I think it was Kota Fujishima and Sakura Oka, they seemed like two tiny delicate flowers floating in “Flames of Paris.”
Overall, I really loved all the dances and the evening moved along at a brisk and pleasing pace. Been coming for years, often at the generosity of Brooklyn’s mom. I couldn’t see how many people were in attendance, but it looked like a pretty good crowd. I was surprised to find Coach Tanner standing by himself unmolested in the lobby and I thought I would get in a quick handshake, and we ended up chatting for probably ten to fifteen minutes, until his wife Karen joined us and others began coming up. They are really nice nice people. We talked about ballet (I think this may have been his first), Gamecock coaching and basketball, and a few other things. I was honored to have met him. Everyone knows what he means to USC sports, and also his charitable contribution to local children and homeless.