There is something ruthless about Alonzo King. King—who exudes the ease and innate savoir faire one associates with Duke Ellington—is the founder, choreographer, and force behind Lines Ballet, currently in the midst of its 2015 spring season at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The world premiere of Biophony, his collaboration with natural soundscape artist Bernie Krause and composer Richard Blackford is a stunning, moving, and, at times, frightening testimony to navigating the pitfalls inherent in one of the scariest things an artist ever has to face: a really great idea.
Calves and hamstrings flex as Alonzo King’s dancers stretch toward the ceiling, stage lights playing off muscles that seem sculpted by Rodin and not permissible on your average human. But Mr. King doesn’t employ the average human; it’s an indisputable fact that most of us can’t bend that way without landing ourselves in traction.
Even an articulated elbow or the simple act of walking is imbued with an electric power in Refractions, the latest in Alonzo King’s famed series of collaborations. Built on a mood-shifting musical landscape provided by master jazz pianist, Jason Moran, the 35-minute world premiere highlights Mr. King’s usual riveting union of soul and feats of athletic prowess.
Ethereal hardly begins to describe the performances by Alonzo King’s eight classically trained LINES dancers (the ninth dancer, Laurel Keen, was absent due to injury) in last night’s three-piece set at YBCA’s Novellus Theater.
The San Francisco-based contemporary dance company presented a revival of Signs and Wonders, first choreographed for the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1995 and recently named an American Masterpiece. Set to indigenous African music, dancers dipped and swirled to tribal rhythms and chanting children, evoking animal spirits in tango-like entwinement and seductive carnal arguments. Lithe bodies rolled flawlessly in slow motion across the stage, showing nature’s grace through delicately flowing movements.