Alonzo King Lines Ballet
Sunday, October 6, 2019
6 PM YBCA, San Francisco
Choreography in Question
Alonzo King’s work has been celebrated in the SF Bay Area for three decades. He produces concerts every year, is known on tour, has trained hundreds of dancers and maintains a famous school in San Francisco. Yet, for this reviewer, his choreographic ‘works’ are constructions of elements and skills evoked from his dancers. These ‘phrases’ of technique that demonstrate the company’s abilities are then set to music, in this latest event, the music of James Moran, soulful jazz and saxophone melodies.
King’s dancers have a range of movement that is exiting and vast. Yet without structure, rhythmic organization, spacial design and some sense of repetition and organization, these movement skills are not clearly registered, transmitted and seen.
Both events on the October 6 concert suffered from this lack of structure. The new work,”Azoth”, supposedly evoked the element mercury , “the essential agent of transformation in alchemy.” For 45 minutes groups formed, scattered, and reformed often providing an environment for a soloist whose actions, seen once, were never seen again. There was ‘image technology,” that consisted of Jim Campbell’s light panels, seen rising and lowering at the start of the piece onto prone dancers. These panels reappeared as various dancers held them to produce more lighting effects.
What any of these technical devises had to do with the mercurial theme (as stated on the program) is hard to say. At least we could appreciate the pas de deux by Adji Cissoko and Michael Montgomery. That was a short episode of lyrical dance.
The program’s opener was “The Personal Element,” a short, sweet ‘ballet blanc’ which again showed the dancers skills (especially those in toe shoes) to fine advantage. The audience was delighted and moved by this work, handsome to look at and again, without any particular structure or thematic material to recommend it.
King and his company deserve praise for their stalwart efforts to bring many professionals and laymen to dance activities. For this reviewer, after many opportunities watching the company, I heartily wish for more coherent choreography.