Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Sometimes, you witness something so stunning your mind can't fully process what it is that you just saw. Two days after the performance of Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Bankhead Theatre, and I'm still having trouble putting into words what I saw, heard, and felt.

First let's start with what I heard which might have been some of the most aurally complex, moving, disturbing, grabbing pieces of music I've ever heard. There was not a merch booth at this performance, but if there was, I would've gone straight up to it during the intermission on bought every single piece of music they had available. It's strange and enticing but it also keeps you at a distance, just complex enough to be affecting.  But the interesting part of these performances wasn't just the music but the silences. Sometimes the dancers would dance in the silence between pieces and that silence made the movement and the music that followed that much more compelling.

And the performances: Oh God, the exquisite beautiful performance. Each one of those dancers was a marvel of the human body's capability to move. I saw such lines and movements in these pieces that I never knew the human body was allowed to make, let alone  allowed to do over and over again to make new and unusual and complex shapes. This ballet above all else was about the limitlessness of the human body, because the dancers had to be limitless to meet the demands of this piece.

And that probably wasn't the intention, but that's what strikes me most about what I witnessed.

But that it not to diminish some of the themes and ideas behind the choreography. Because there was so much at play, at least in my mind. There was this awesome piece where a dancer is dancing in the foreground but three or four dancers are slowly making their way from one side of the stage to the other and one dancer is being held at the legs as she wheelbarrows her way to the other side. She fights and struggles against the person helping her/holding her back and it was as profound a piece of choreography as what the dancer in the foreground was doing. 

And that wasn't the only time that this idea came back to me as one of the themes of the piece. There was this profound moving piece at the end of the first act that I can only describe as what would happen if Mia Micheal's Addiction piece married Travis Wall's Fix You dance and the two had a meandering child. The piece focused on a woman and there were four male dancers around her the whole time and much of the piece was spent in an odd tug of war. They'd help in one sweeping move and then hold her back in the next and she in turn would caress them in one movement and fight against them the next and it was so damned beautiful that I had to watch the whole thing through streaming tears. I gasped more times in that piece than I've gasped at anything in my life, and yes, I did just watch the last episode of Breaking Bad. I still stand behind that statement.

But that's not to say that some of the pieces don't get muddled. There was a piece involving paper in about the middle of the second act that felt muddled to me, or that the point was so clear as to be contrived. I felt as if the paper one dancer was throwing about probably symbolized money and he was trying to throw it around to gain leverage on the lead girl/the other dancers in the piece and about halfway through it worked, but then the girl rises above it, and in the end, the dancer is left collecting all the discarded paper around him and just something about it, the obviousness of it, left me cold.

But that was pretty much the only low spot, and it wasn't every low at all. Overall, this was incredible, and if you get the chance to see them perform in any way, shape or form, do it. Do it in a heartbeat. A-

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