Alonzo King's Lines Ballet (USA)
Based in San Francisco, the Lines Ballet, founded 27 years ago, entered the international touring circle only in recent years. So my first encounter with the company and Alonzo King's creations at a French festival four years ago was a sort of revelation, as King's work strays somewhat from prevailing presumptions concerning mainstream American dance - his natural habitat.
His rich, imaginative dance lexicon that strongly relies on ballet technique doesn't hinder his search for further versatile kinetic modes and subtle methods of expression. The compact ensemble of nine dancers that took part in the evening was quite impressive. Each brought strong and noticeable individuality to the stage, yet the melting pot of King's style - its musicality, its textured work, particularly in the upper torso and arms - is fascinating and cohesive.
In both works - Irregular Pearl, set to a musical collage of Corelli, Handel, Vivaldi and more, and Rasa, based on music by Zakir Hussain - one could equally detect traces of African dance in the Alvin Ailey tradition along with European influences from progressive artists such as Forsyth, coloring King's own signature. His driving inquisitive urges are obvious, as is his commitment to his art, beyond entertainment.
It was a pleasure to see the fine dancers, particularly the well-rounded Meredith Webster and Brett Conway; but most others excelled in turn, each in his unique kinesthetic qualities and captivating personality.
Alain Lortie's lighting and set designing were most effective and his shifting, wide strip of illuminated, textured gold material was breathtaking, strengthening the essence of the cultural inspiration of the work.