Resin: Alonzo King’s “LINES” Ballet at the Joyce Theater
At intermission everyone was saying the same thing, “I knew they would be good, but not this “good!” This was the topic of conversation after seeing Alonzo King’s “LINES” Ballet at the Joyce Theater. We were all abuzz because we had just seen Alonzo King’s “Resin”, possible one of the most dramatic, original and well done pieces of choreography I have EVER SEEN (and I have seen a lot of dance in my day…).
Alonzo King’s approach to movement is genius. His choreography is intuitive to the dancer’s body, making what they do onstage seem so effortless (I actually for a moment thought I could get up there and do that…thankfully, it only lasted a moment). King’s dancers are all such virtuosos that seeming feats of impossibility is just another day in the performance for them.
Resin (2009) opens with the curtain rising and we see a yellow, almost chartreuse small round tent of fabric, within it is a dancer who slowly puts a hand, a face, the torso against it, the outline and features only vaguely apparent. The fabric slowly rises to reveal Paul Knobloch, the lights highlighting his rippling muscles and blond hair. For a moment he was Apollo, god of manly beauty.
Mr. Knobloch begins a solo that has to be seen to fully give justice to its passion and strength. Let it be said that we were all transfixed by the musicality of his movement and his ability to weave in between the notes heard.
It’s easy to become immersed in Resin for its music speaks to your heart. King uses Sephardic songs from Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Yemen, including children’s songs and religious songs, with them you hear the pain and suffering of the Jewish Diaspora. At one point sand cascades onto the stage from the flies, the dancers stand underneath as it rebounds off their bodies, ever defiant, ever determined.
Alonzo King’s vocabulary is classical but he shifts, sculpts, molds it to create his own unique language. Resin is evidence of an artist with a unique vision and his choreography matches the complex syncopation of the Sephardic songs. His choreography is such that dancers must yearn to dance it, for they seem to bleed their own souls into their dancing, all together it creates a powerful voice.
Enough cannot be said about Courtney Henry, my eye was drawn to her when she was on stage and when she existed, I longed for her return. She is a rare beauty with a perfect blend of grace and power. When she extends her long legs, they seem to reach to the very heavens. She was a delight and a dancer whose dancing I shall always remember.
Micheal Montgomery must be mentioned as well. He is able to complete turns in the most spectacular of fashions, twisting and arching his upper torso within the last few seconds. I would find myself asking myself “did he just do that”. Handsome and athletic his presence on the stage cannot and should not be missed.
With “Scheherazade” we enter a different world, David Harvey as King Shahryar, and Kara Wilkes as the ever clever Scheherazade, they told a tale that needed no program notes for the dancing was so complete. Ms. Wilkes, well aware of the fate of the king’s other wives entices him, keeping him even entertained by her seductive store telling, for her very life depends on it. The mainstay of the work is an extended duet between Ms. Wilkes and Mr. Harvey that twisted, turned, pushed and pulled till both dancers were near to exhaustion. At one point they find themselves tied to each other at the ankle, forever connected and locked in their struggle. In the end they come to the realization that this struggle has developed into a deep love between them.
Keelan Whitmore as the Vizier was a powerhouse, his presence felt the moment he steps on stage, wearing only billowy red harem pants he whips his body into solos that can only be labeled majestic.
The tabla master Zakir Hussain’s re-interpretation of the Rimsky-Korsakov’s score incorporated traditional Persian as well as western instruments. It created a percussive uniqueness with the blend of Eastern and Western sounds that seem to somehow pay homage to Ballet Russes original Scheherazade.
Alonzo King’s Scheherazade, was created in 2010, the tale from“One Thousand and One Nights”, and was made famous by Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballet Russe. The sensational 1910 ballet was original choreographed by Michel Fokine with costumes and sets by Leon Bakst and music by Rimsky-Korsakov. It was an immedaite hit in Paris and made Orientalism the newest trend in fashion.
Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet is a world-class company at the height of its talents. I must be seen to be truly believed for no amount of words can ever do it justice!