It seem like all the various dance and theater companies share/trade their mailing lists, because once you get on one list your mailbox is filled with the notices from every other company in the Bay Area.
But that’s a good thing, because it alerts you to performances you might well want to see but would never hear of otherwise. Sunday, for instance, we went to the City to see Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, because we got a card from them and thought we’d give it a try.
The day started out with a problem–our tickets were supposed to be at will-call, but they weren’t. While the box office staff told me they had no record of me, the attention they showed and the help they gave belied that–if they really thought I hadn’t purchased the tickets, they would have had security throw me out. Instead, they tried to get us seats. Gayle Everett, who was along for her very first ballet, got seated, but Gail and I and Lois Grandi (a genuine ballerina in her own right), ended up standing for the first act. We all had seats for the second act, pretty good seats in fact. But it was a strange situation.
The Ballet, on the other hand, was perfect. To quote the program:
Alonzo King has been called a visionary choreographer who is altering the way we look at ballet. King calls his works “thought structures” created by the manipulation of energies that exist in matter through laws which govern the shapes and movment directions of everything that exists.
Okay, I don’t know what that means. But Alonzo King has created over 170 ballets, so he’s doing something right.
I do know that I have never seen bodies move like that, and I liked it.
The first act was Dust and Light, an exercise in abstract ballet that left even Lois, an experienced lifelong balletomane, slack jawed with appreciation.
Set to the classical music of Francis Poulenc and Arcangelo Corelli, there is no plot, no story line, just movement and sound. You really can’t think “what is happening, what does this mean?”, all you can do is open you mind and heart to the pure emotion of the piece. It was mesmerizing.
The second act was Scheherazade, which was “commissioned by Monaco Dance Forum to inaugurate the Centenary of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo.” The father of modern dance was Serghey Diaghilev, and this dance honors his “spirit of cutting edge artistic collaboration, immersing audiences in a luminescent and richly textured world.”
The story of the Arabian Nights is retold with beauty and grace. The dance is wonderful, and the sets and lighting are staggeringly good. An enormous piece of cloth is suspended over the stage, and by movement and lighting it becomes a cloud, the canopy of a forest, an omen, almost a character of the dance. Light drop from the sky and puddle on the floor. The costumes are delightful (Gayle Everett learned all about them sitting with the woman who dyed the material, Amy Van Every). The dancers do impossible things–we saw one woman balancing on one en pointe toe, which Lois says can’t be done.
At the conclusion, there was the longest sustained applause/curtain call I have ever witnessed, and the LINES Ballet earned every bit of it.
Their spring performance will be April 14-24, at Yerba Buena Center. We’ll be there, you should too. Want to go together?