I reviewed LINES Ballet’s latest program, featuring the world premiere of “Satoh,” for the Chronicle today:
“It’s inevitable at a Lines Ballet performance: that moment when you wonder, what planet am I on? Not much beyond the women’s pointe shoes is familiar. The movement is strange and spiderlike, full of extreme extensions and jutting joints. The dancers’ encounters are intense and mysterious, the costumes sleek but weird. And this, if artistic director Alonzo King is a genius, is the genius of what he does: He renders ballet so alien that it becomes universal.
It’s a visionary aesthetic, one capable of responding to the sounds of myriad cultures without so much as a whiff of appropriation. King’s encounter with African pygmies, “People of the Forest,” was not about him trying on the dance of Central Africa; last year’s hit, “Before the Blues,” seemed to be set in some kind of deep subconscious mental landscape rather than the American South. His latest work, “Satoh,” which premiered Thursday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is sponsored by the Japan Foundation. But it is less about Japanese culture than about King’s perennial subject: the transcendent human condition.
“Satoh,” named for composer Somei Satoh, is as spare and stripped-down as its score. It is also a little hollow. If you want to see King at his deepest and most moving, stay for “Three Stops on the Way Home,” a lush 1997 collaboration with famed jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders.”