My review of the Lines Ballet fall season, in Monday’s Chronicle:
“Lines Ballet threw itself a big party Friday night, and for a big occasion. The troupe is officially 25 years old, but longevity is just the start of what’s worth celebrating.
In a quarter-century, Alonzo King’s small, sleek company has risen from playing tiny theaters to touring the country and now the world; worked with a dazzling array of musical collaborators hailing from Morocco, Central Africa, Japan and beyond; and essentially, through these nine dancers’ twisted, tangled movement and King’s earnest yet urgent spirituality, broken the mold of what ballet can be. With its bustling dance center, Lines has also – alongside San Francisco Ballet and ODC/Dance – become one of the hubs of the San Francisco dance scene, one of its great successes and its magnets.
Rest assured all this was marked with due pomp at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: fancy dinner, sparkling dresses, Champagne. And yet, if at some galas festivity trumps substance, that just isn’t possible with King in charge. The man does not know how to be frivolous. There were luxuries aplenty Friday: fabulous live music and a guest appearance by former San Francisco Ballet ballerina Muriel Maffre. But the greatest richness was the dancing: purposeful, powerful and luscious. And that’s a richness that should only deepen as the home season continues through Sunday.
There are two King world premieres on this program. “Irregular Pearl,” to a smattering of Baroque composers with music from the pit by members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, has moments but will probably not go down as King at his best. On the other hand, “Rasa” is extraordinary. The music for “Rasa” is a mesmerizing commissioned score by the tabla master Zakir Hussain. The heart of “Rasa” is an epic pas de deux for two of King’s most touching dancers, Laurel Keen and Brett Conway.
King’s finest duets have an arresting way of moving between superhuman ballet curvatures and all-too-human postures of vulnerability, and that is the case with “Rasa,” but taken to new heights. As Hussain’s score floats through mournful cries and atmospheric effects that sound like footfalls in the distance, Keen and Conway cling and entwine. She cradles his calf and foot; he straightens his leg to eject. She climbs back up his legs; they roll pressed to one another all the way across the stage. Romantic desperation this is not – some solemn, struggling communion is happening.”
Click here for the full review.