Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet is not your typical ballet company for so many reasons. At the top of that list of reasons is mastery of fluid, flawless movement. The dancers are polished, amazingly capable athletes and artists. They are the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever witnessed.
At intermission my daughter noticed that I was crying (yes, they were that good. I’ve never cried at a dance performance before). “Why are you crying, Mom?” she asked.
“Because they are the most beautiful dancers I’ve ever seen,” I said.
I’ve never seen such a breathtaking and unusual array of dancers: wild-haired Spaniards, tall, lithe Amazonian pixies, long, willowy African American men and women; incredible athletes of every size, shape and race. This is not a company where each dancer is supposed to be a perfect carbon copy of the next. Instead, every individual’s strengths and style are encouraged and showcased.
King’s choreography is fine-tuned for each dancer; it is expressive and progressive. “It was ballet but not really,” according to my daughter. It is ballet, but it is so much more. King takes ballet and gives it modern-day relevance. The dance vocabulary is all his own, but it’s a language that today’s audience can understand and relate to. His collaborations with other master artists such as Zakir Hussain and Pharoah Sanders add further vitality to his work.
King’s choreography is demanding!! There were times that it was hard to believe that I was seeing what I was seeing. Yet the dancers pulled it all off seamlessly. Watching them move with an understanding of how much energy is involved is awe-inspiring… and the dancers were on fire! Every one of them worked to their limit to “bring it”.
Many years (okay, decades) ago, a friend brought me to one of Alonzo King’s classes. I’d been studying classical ballet for more than 13 years at the time, 6 of them at the prestigious School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. I distinctly remember how difficult I found his class- mostly because the moves were so foreign- I couldn’t make my body do what was being asked. It was ballet, but not exactly… or rather, it was contemporary ballet as opposed to classical… something else entirely.
Those of us who live in the Bay Area are fortunate to have such an amazing gem in our midst. I plan to partake of that good fortune as often as possible.