Sunday, January 27th, 2013 12:00 PM
A dance company's reputation can set up all sorts of expectations. Some are met, others not. But there's no need to dwell on preconceptions when it comes to Alonzo King Lines Ballet. The San Francisco dance company is a stunner, as its Cleveland debut Saturday at the Ohio Ballet made blazingly clear.
The program, presented by DanceCleveland and PlayhouseSquare, featured two of artistic director King's recent creations, "Scheherazade" and "Resin." more › Each is a richly conceived work of 40 or so minutes filled with solos, duets and ensembles that make stellar use of the company's 12 exceptional dancers.
The name Lines Ballet has myriad associations in terms of technique and metaphor. King applies the word "lines" holistically to his distinctive blend of classical ballet and modern dance. The dancers often extend themselves to the max, while sending lines in every imaginable direction.
In "Scheherazde," King employs classical vocabulary – the women dance on point – to a haunting take on the familiar tale of 1,001 Arabian nights. The story unfolds as a series of encounters without literal connotation, though the figures of the storytelling Scheherazade and dominating Shahryar (the king) are introduced at the outset.
What follows is a torrid and exotic explosion of Kingian creativity, set to a score by the noted Indian tabla composer and player Zakir Hussain that transforms themes from Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite into a glittering and sinuous soundscape of percussion, flutes, harp and voices.
King's choreography – always on the surprising move, with elegant and striking deployment of arms and legs – provides equal opportunities for his dancers. At Saturday's performance, they were as animated, limber and pinpoint in solo sequences as they were in inventive and individual ensemble sections that only fleetingly resort to unison patterns.
Dancing before Robert Rosenwasser's atmospheric eastern-tinged backdrops of changing colors, the cast members stood out whether en masse or alone. The extended duet for Scheherazade and Shahryar was a burst of seductive intertwinements that Kara Wilkes and David Harvey shaped with supple vibrancy. The evocations of tribal rituals showed the company to be a rhythmic powerhouse.
King employs metaphor in almost mystical ways in "Resin," which alludes to the sap from a tree whose "harden resins are called tears," as the choreographer states in a program note. The score of Sephardic music of the Diaspora by Jordi Savall and archival recordings conjures varied states of lamentation and exultation, which are reflected in the multi-faceted choreography.
King maintains a keen balance of grounded and airborne ideas, at once ornamental and darting, and always in expressive counterpoint to the music. Throughout the 16 sections, the dancers – the men bare-chested, the women in gilded or silvery tunics – thrust themselves into a perpetual motion of solo and ensemble material.
All of the dancers made dynamic contributions Saturday, including the regal and pliant Courtney Henry, poetic Meredith Webster, charismatic Keelan Whitmore and vigorous Ricardo Zayas. How the company could achieve such precision and clarity in the dizzying ensembles is something only the dancers and King could tell.
Two moments in "Resin" especially dazzled, thanks to King, Rosenwasser, lighting designer Axel Morgenthaler and the company: as particles that look like sand rained down on the dancers, we actually could see the tears that the music had fixed in our subconscious. It was unforgettable, like Lines Ballet.
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
RELATED COMPANY: Alonzo King's LINES Ballet
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 12:00 PM
Celebrated LINES Ballet to Perform in Cleveland Jan. 26-27
Versatile San Francisco Company Led by Artistic Vision of Alonzo King
"King has extraordinary dancers: beautifully trained, physically elegant" -- The New Republic
"The most sophisticated modernism in classical ballet" -- Los Angeles Times
CLEVELAND (Dec. 13, 2012) – The acclaimed LINES Ballet, led by visionary choreographer and artistic director Alonzo King, will come to the Ohio Theatre for two performances, Jan. 26-27, presented by more › DANCECleveland and PlayhouseSquare.
Tickets for the Saturday evening performance at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. are available at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office, 216-241-6000 or online at www.playhousesquare.org.
Additionally, "Pick two for $40" mini-subscription packages are also available. Purchasers can save up to 50% off single ticket prices by selecting two of the three remaining performances on DANCECleveland's season -- LINES Ballet (January 27 performance only), Mark Morris Dance Group (March 2) and Lucky Plush (May 3 performance only). Seating for all "Pick two for $40" packages will be located in Section C of each venue. For information call 216- 991-9000 or visit www.dancecleveland.org
The LINES Ballet program will include two recent King dances: Scheherazade, created in 2009, and Resin from 2011. Scheherazade is a re-envisioning of the ancient collection of Persian, Sanskrit and Arabic stories. It is set to a new score by tabla master Zakir Hussain, who re-interprets the original music by Rimsky-Korsakov. Commissioned by the Monaco Dance Forum, the dance honors Sergei Diaghilev's spirit of cutting-edge artistic collaboration.
In Resin, King explores the possibilities of the vast and diverse field of Sephardic music. Rare archival field recordings are interwoven with Judeo-Spanish songs, and the stage is transformed into a timeless landscape.
These performances, as part of the company's 30th anniversary tour, mark the company's Cleveland debut. LINES was presented by DANCECleveland six years ago at Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall.
Founded in 1982, the celebrated contemporary ballet company based in San Francisco is guided by the unique artistic vision of King, who creates works that draw on deeply rooted cultural traditions, imbuing classical ballet with new expressive potential. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as "one of the few bona fide visionaries in the ballet world today," King has created more than 170 ballets, including a remarkable repertory for LINES, often working in collaboration with world-renowned musicians and artists.
King's works are represented in the repertories of such companies as the Swedish Royal Ballet, Ballets de Monte Carlo, Frankfurt Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet, among others.
LINES Ballet has been featured at numerous venues, including the Venice Biennale, Monaco Dance Forum, the Edinburgh Festival and the Holland Dance Festival, among others. In the spring of 2012, the first full-length film of the company's performances was released in Europe to inaugurate the company's 30th anniversary season.
DANCECleveland, a Cleveland, Ohio based non-profit, is one of a handful of presenters nationally that is dedicated solely to the presentation of modern and contemporary dance. The centerpiece of the organization's programming is its annual performance series. The performances are surrounded by an array of educational outreach events including artist-run master classes, residency programs, student matiness, pre-performance lectures and post-performance Q&A sessions, designed both to break artistic boundaries and provide community access to the dance aesthetic and dance luminaries that DANCECleveland brings to Northeast Ohio.
For more information about LINES Ballet, visit: www.linesballet.org
For more information about DANCECleveland, visit: www.dancecleveland.org
ELECTRONIC PHOTOS AVAILABLE FROM PAM BARR AT 216-932-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding for this presentation is generously provided by:
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Cleveland Foundation, George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, George Gund Foundation, Kulas Foundation, John P. Murphy Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council.
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 12:00 PM
DANCECleveland is proud to present the all-new "pick two" for $40 mini subscription packages! Simply pick two of the next three 2012-2013 DANCECleveland season performances and save up to 50% off of single ticket prices! Select from the stunning Alonzo King LINES Ballet (Sunday Jan. 28 at 3:00 p.m.), the world renowned Mark Morris Dance Group (Mar.2 at 8:00 p.m.) or the season finale finale by the new breed more ›
of modern dance, Lucky Plush. All handling and ticket services charges are waived!
All subscribers who purchase will receive DANCECleveland's subscriber perks including the option to purchase additional tickets for friends or family at the discounted subscriber rate, quick, free and easy exchanges through DANCECleveland's office, the inside story to each dance company through our emailed DANCE MATTERS e-newsletter and first opportunity to renew and upgrade seating locations when we announce our next season.
Saturday, August 11th, 2012 9:45 AM
Say it isn't so, Doug Elkins. You've announced that "Fraulein Maria," your loving goofball of a dance work that sends up "The Sound of Music," is on the last leg of a "So Long, Farewell Tour." Is this a ploy to keep the piece in perpetual circulation? Perhaps putting your brainstorm on the shelf for a while will enhance its delights and make it even more magnetic down the road.
Judging more › by the audience that chuckled and roared through "Fraulein Maria" Friday at the Hanna Theatre in PlayhouseSquare, Elkins' creation is one of the favorite dance things to come to town since it first played the venue in 2009.
And why not? The New York choreographer takes the familiar soundtrack of the movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's sentimental hit and tweaks the narratives to the point of affectionate and whimsical irreverence. In little more than an hour, Elkins employs a banquet of dance styles, including hip-hop, and gender-bending ideas to catapult the story of Maria and her adventures in nanny-hood.
Before the curtain rises, the antic master of ceremonies, Michael Preston (director of the production with Barbara Karger), takes center stage to instruct the audience in singing "Do-Re-Mi" and welcoming Rodgers (on tape) to chat about the movie. Then we're off to the Alps, depicted by dancers stretching long swaths of fabric and Preston adding tiny trees, and the arrival of three Marias – count 'em – including one who will never bear children.
Elkins treats each song as a mini-drama filled with traditional and contemporary details. The costumes resemble what you know from the movie, but the moves and people inside them hail from an era that favors the kinetic and the quirky.
It's impossible not to smile as the nuns (women and man alike) try to solve a problem like "Maria" with all sorts of impish inflections and wave-like gestures. Elkins proves to be the most musical, and inventive, of choreographers as he creates a distinct dance motive for each note in "Do-Re-Mi," a whirlwind of an ensemble piece that takes the dexterous and buoyant dancers to the edge of exhaustion.
Although most of "Fraulein Maria" functions as a mirthful parody, there are moments when hints of darkness descend. As Preston and Elkins, dressed as a nerdy guy with a hat, try to share a park bench during "Edelweiss," their inability to co-exist suggests ominous political forces at play.
But the atmosphere largely is upbeat, funky and surprising. In "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," the eldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, is portrayed by a lanky guy who plants a whopping kiss on the lips of a diminutive Rolf. A hooded Elkins shows up in b-boy attire to offer a breakdance variation on "Climb Every Mountain" that brings down the house.
So do the dancers of Doug Elkins and Friends, as the New York company is known. They manage their quicksilver and acrobatic duties with gleeful personality, earning every accolade they deserve during bows to "So Long, Farewell." Let's hope this cheeky confection surfaces again in years to come.
RELATED COMPANY: Fraulein Maria from Doug Elkins and Friends
Sunday, March 11th, 2012 10:00 AM
Some dance companies make an impression by trying to leap past the footlights and into the audience's lap. Others are content to share their art with more poise and subtlety.
Ballet Memphis is among the latter. In its Cleveland debut Saturday at the Ohio Theatre under the auspices of DanceCleveland, the company revealed that refinement, detail and unity are paramount. The dancers are beautifully trained and expressive, equal to all of more › the tasks set before them.
The repertoire Saturday gave the company ample opportunity to convey both extroverted and introspective ideas within compact frameworks. Each piece made its points directly, providing a clear sense of structure and intention, minus material that might extend the narrative beyond its natural boundaries.
Steven McMahon, the company's choreographic associate, explores joy in "Being Here With Other People," which is set to the third movement from Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Although this transcendent music needs no visual component to work its magic, McMahon's response to Beethoven is a genial frolic, with buoyant unison patterns, head and hip twists and playful waving that keep the action light and lively.
Matters are much darker in Julia Adam's poetic "Curtain of Green," a setting of a Eudora Whelty short story about a woman dealing with loss. Danced to piano etudes by Philip Glass, the piece focuses on memory and anguish, with the woman (Crystal Brothers) recalling her lost love (McMahon) in agonized gestures.
As the woman tries to resuscitate him, an African-American boy (Kendall G. Britt Jr.) appears to add mystery and drama to the tale. Adam finds a fine line between violence and compassion as the woman substitutes a caress for a slap. The dancers gave the piece a sweeping and touching performance.
Brothers was back as another troubled woman in Jane Comfort's "S'epanouir," whose title (French for "to blossom") refers to the protagonist's journey from calamity to emotional health. Kirk Whalum's score thrusts the scenario forward from blues to gospel, allowing the deeply communicative Brothers to interact with her vibrant colleagues with increasing hope and elation.
The company comes into full contact with its Southern heritage in Trey McIntyre's "In Dreams," set to six songs performed by Roy Orbison (who also speaks in one clip). Five dancers convey the songs' passionate sentiments in configurations of romantic and athletic design.
McIntyre's choreography is an ideal fit for the Ballet Memphis dancers, who abounded in personality, yet were always mindful of their place as team players.
The night's only work that eschewed elegance for virtuosity was an addition to the program, Robert Battle's "Takademe," a solo based on an Indian dance and performed to Sheila Chandra's dazzling bit of vocal chattering, "Speaking in Tongues."
Battle, new artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (which performs at PlayhouseSquare in May), mirrors the rhythmic eruptions in Chandra's creation with whiplashing arms, taffy-like bends and convulsive leaps. Britt gave the piece a performance of coiled and elastic brilliance.
RELATED COMPANY: Ballet Memphis