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Flash Review 3, 2-8: Flurries
Alonzo King's 'Rules' of the Game

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2005 Beliz Demircioglu

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NEW YORK -- Snow had taken over New York on January 22, but this didn't stop an energized audience from finding its way to the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to see Alonzo King's Lines Ballet's stunning performance. Elegance and technical perfection were carried into even the most unexpected moments.

"Before the Rules," a premiere which addressed personal and social struggles, opened the program. King explored different perspectives on maintaining one's individuality in the face of societal strictures.

The score, collaged by King, included original music by Pharoah Sanders. The eternal beauty and sincerity of movement came out to music ranging from electronic to classic. In some parts of the score constant repetition of words like "Yes" or "I forgive you" built up the dynamics. With this repetition, the variety of the movement accentuated the different meanings that could be applied to the words.

The dancers' relationship with the music made them seem like feelings hidden in the notes. The struggles evoked, patterns, pace, and volume of the music were all carried into the choreography but not as a simple mirror effect. Rather, they completed each other.

The work was already complete with the movements and Christopher Haas's minimalist set design, making Axel Mortenthaler's video projections seem unneeded in most sections. Also, the transitions between the different shots were not edited well and stood out awkwardly. In two sections the projections added an enhancing layer. Early on, a simple red rectangle taking up only part of the screen appeared in the projection. This completed the simplicity of the costume, lighting and set design and therefore advanced the choreography. And towards the end of the piece, as the dancers exited to the words "I love you" repeated again and again in the score, animated human figures in black were projected running across the screen.

King is a master in creating multiple dynamic places onstage. The complex patterns created in duets were enriched by simultaneous solos. The dancers revealed themselves as technical virtuosos with radiating stage presence. They captured the stage so well that it felt as if the space would have to expand to accommodate their extended lines. Most of the time they slid through the air in their physically very difficult movements, but sometimes they bounced when they were not stable in a position, failing to make a smooth transition.

The program also included the 1998 "Who dressed you like a foreigner?", which opened with a duet in beaming green light designed by Morgenthaler. This piece showcased the flawless technique of the dancers. Drew Jacoby, Prince Credell and Lauren Porter Worth's striking clarity and stage presence were outstanding.

In this work, even though King's movements were technically very challenging, the source was primary and universal. As the dancers moved, the rhythm energized the space so strongly that it took over my heartbeat. The piece ended with artificial snow falling over the dark stage and onto Laurel Keen and Brett Conway. The emotions were set free as if a clenched fist was slowly opened.

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