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Constellation: Alonzo King Lines Ballet at the Joyce, 2014….

April 16, 2014
Michael Montgomery, Ricardo Zayas, Keelan Whitmore & Ashely Jackson in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Michael Montgomery, Ricardo Zayas, Keelan Whitmore & Ashely Jackson in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Alonzo King’s Constellation is a much different program than that offered during Alonzo King Lines Ballet’s 2012 NYC Season at the Joyce. Resin, which premiered in 2011, was a work of passion and physicality that incurred a deep emotional response. For the score, Mr. King explored Sephardic songs from Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Yemen, including children’s songs and religious songs, with them you heard the pain and suffering of the Jewish Diaspora.

Where Resin was a work of emotion, Mr. King’s Constellation, which premiered in 2012, is work of the spiritual. It is danced in soft shoes and is shown in 19 sections in 75 minutes. Set Designer Jim Campbell and lighting designer Axel Morgenthaler created a backdrop of glowing orbs, small lights like the stars in the constellation amongst a sea of blackness. Israeli mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani would enter and exist through the production, singing excerpts from Vivaldi, Strauss or Handel, her voice weaving a web of mysticism, lending a touch of magic.

Michael Montgomery in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Michael Montgomery in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Filled with duets and solos, the dancers were allowed to shine. Mr. King’s choreography is hard to describe with words, his utilizes the classical vocabulary when needed and discards it when not. There is a freedom found in the constant movement in which the dancers sometimes move in unison but often times not. But even when dancers are not moving in unison, there is still a shared theme, movements that are repetitive within the phrasing but slightly different for each dancer.

If you have never seen Courtney Henry dance than you have done yourself a great injustice. Ms. Henry, who was a finalist in the prestigious Youth American Grand Prix “Stars of Tomorrow” program in New York City, is a dancer that was born to dance.  When I see her I am reminded of some on the great contemporary ballerina of our time, Sylvie Guillem or Wendy Whelan. Yes, she’s that good.

The duet between Micheal Montgomery and Babatunji was a thing to behold. Filled with turns that finished with elongated limbs, it was a display of competitive camaraderie. A sense of each dancer pushing the other to be stronger, better….

The pairing of Ms. Henry with Mr. Montgomery was a stroke of genius. Their movement qualities were perfectly matched. Their dancing created a moment when time was suspended, nothing else in the universe matter. Both lithe and long-limbed, they flowed organically with and around one another.

Keelan Whitmore in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Keelan Whitmore in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Original score composers Ben Juodvalkis and Leslie Stuck with Sound Designer Christopher Barnett create a colorful tapestry of sound. You could hear the wind, bells or birds calling while in flight, these are intermixed with romantic melodies by violin and cello.

Yujin Kim’s solo is another moment within Constellation in which time stops, the emotionality of her movements is undeniable. When a small ball is rolled on stage, she picks it up and it becomes a thing cherished that is then shared with another.

Yujin Kim & Zachary Tang in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Yujin Kim & Zachary Tang in Alonzo King’s “Constellation”. Photo by Margo Moritz.

Mr. King is unafraid to allow the body to be seen in brief moments of awkwardness. Elbows hyper-extended and crossing one another or in the way two dancers may move in relationship to each other. The woman bent over and the man to the side picks her up and down in quick small lifts, she awkwardly hangs from his body as he turns and then he lifts her to chest level as she elongates her body into a beautiful line.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet is a celebrated contemporary ballet company that has been guided since 1982 by the unique artistic vision of Alonzo King. Collaborating with noted composers, musicians, and visual artists from around the world, Alonzo King creates works that draw on a diverse set of deeply rooted cultural traditions, imbuing classical ballet with new expressive potential. Alonzo King understands ballet as a science – founded on universal, geometric principles of energy and evolution – and continues to develop a new language of movement from its classical forms and techniques. Alonzo King’s visionary choreography, brought to life by the extraordinary LINES Ballet dancers, is renowned for connecting audiences to a profound sense of shared humanity.

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