Alonzo King LINES Ballet

This weekend, Tulsa has the pleasure of spending some time with San Francisco’s Alonzo King and his LINES Ballet. The company, which is performing here for the first time thanks to Choregus Productions, arrived on Wednesday, and yesterday launched into a very full weekend, beginning with an educational performance for 400 schoolchildren in the morning and an evening performance of their “Scheherazade” and “Dust and Light” at the PAC’s Williams Theater. Today brings a master class this afternoon, and another performance this evening at 8.

Alongside the delight of watching a group of exceptionally strong dancers at work, this visit from LINES brings a massive dose of inspiration from King himself, who is an internationally celebrated choreographer and (more importantly, as I think he would agree) a deep-thinking man with a great deal to say about dance and art and life.

One theme of King’s comments so far, in the educational performance and in a Q&A after last night’s show, is that art is not something “out there.” It is internal. It is accessed, not made. Artists simply “tap the vault” of the world’s wisdom and structure and cultural heritage in the process of exploring their own personal journey toward becoming “a deeper thinking, feeling, living human being.”

In dance, the body is the instrument. The dancer literally plays her body with the music. (I couldn’t believe how intuitively the LINES dancers breathed through Zakir Hussain’s magnificent tabla score in “Scheherazade” — like someone walking through woods with his eyes closed, knowing it from the inside, not struggling to find a path but just moving forward without fear.) In the dancers he works with, he looks for “a mind as expanded as possible, and a heart as open as possible.” He wants, he said, “to work with geniuses” — he’s looking for “heroes, not sheep.”

King also said one of his main interests as a choreographer is “looking to get as many new and unseen forms as we can … to excavate every single possibility the body can make.” I certainly saw that in the two works presented last night, particularly in “Dust and Light,” a series of extraordinary duets and trios. One sees a lot of the same stuff made in those configurations these days, but these were utterly original at every moment. Pushing, pulling, leading, falling. Movement in several dimensions at once. Always, the beauty of the instrument.

Got to get my hero on to prepare for the master class. šŸ™‚ More to come.