The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jan 11, 2013

Alonzo King's Lines Ballet being presented by DanceCleveland

Posted by rdurbin

DANCECleveland, a Knight Arts grantee, first brought the famed LINES Ballet to the Akron area six years ago. This year it’s bringing it back again, only this time for two performances in Playhouse Square.

What a welcome thing, for LINES Ballet, which is led by Alonzo King, who formed the group in 1982 and has earned for himself and his company labels and phrases like “visionary choreographer” and the “most sophisticated modernism in classical ballet,” will be sure to add to the prestige of dance in the area.

Alonzo King. Photo from

 Alonzo King has put together over 170 dances for his company. For the upcoming performances, however, the 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, which told of a thousand and one tales by the young woman to avoid the fate of those chosen before her by the king – beheading after spending a night with him. She mesmerized the ruler, and controlled her own destiny.

The score for “Scheherazade” has been composed by tabla master Zakir Hussain. He takes as his source a work with the same name by composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Tabla is an instrument consisting of two hand drums of different sizes and therefore different timbers – the smaller one holding the melody line and the larger the beat and pitch. Sounds exotic, and right in keeping with King’s notions for this work.

If you watch segments of this work on you can see why someone commented about the dancers that they are both languid and taut at the same time. Strongly muscular and lean, the dancers seem to push gently through the air as though movement is a mysterious and evocative force.

Corey Scott Gilbert, in "Scheherazade. Photo courtesy of DANCECleveland Corey Scott Gilbert, in "Scheherazade. Photo courtesy of DANCECleveland

The dancers’ movement probably will be also very evident in the second piece scheduled – Alonzo King’s “Resin.” The title kind of says it all, for it oozes liquidity and languor.

Notes for the dance say that the work “explores the possibilities of the vast and diverse field of Sephardic music,” in which “rare archival field recordings are interwoven with Judeo-Spanish songs, and the stage is transformed into a timeless landscape.”

That all sounds like pretty heady stuff, yet the dancers get to embody the ideas and emotions, thereby giving concreteness to the big picture in King’s choreography.

The acclaimed LINES Ballet will perform for DANCECleveland at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 26 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 27 in the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave., Akron; 216-241-6000; Tickets are $20-$50.

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