Alonzo King LINES Ballet delivers two must-see works at Seattle's Meany Hall with "Scheherazade" and "Dust and Light."
DANCE REVIEW |
If Alonzo King’s “Dust and Light” had been on any other program, it probably would have blown its companion pieces out of the water. But it’s sharing a bill with King’s transcendent “Scheherazade.” And that makes Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s gig at Meany Hall a dance event you don’t want to miss.
The two works, both dating from 2009, offer strong contrasts in staging, but their dance pyrotechnics are consistently astonishing.
“Dust and Light,” set to recordings of Corelli and Poulenc, is a series of duets that surge into one another, occasionally branching out into trios and quartets. The “story” is simply about the ties between the dancers. Those connections can be romances, power struggles, tangles of interdependence, or some lucidly rendered hybrid of all three.
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The way King orchestrates his dancers, their bodies are sometimes languorous, sometimes in violent bloom. Lines that are fluid at one moment become crystal-sharp the next. Courtly steps slip into balancing acts; embraces turn to entrapment.
It’s difficult singling out peak moments from such continuous pleasure. But Ashley Jackson, paired with David Harvey, had a soaring, swanning gymnastic flair that set the bar for all that followed; soloist Zachary Tang’s tight, savage, chopping moves (with choruslike backup from three male dancers) had bravura power; and a duet between Meredith Webster and Keelan Whitmore, culminating in unexpectedly acrobatic you-go-your-way-and-I’ll-go-mine fallout, was a stunner.
“Dust and Light” unfolded on a bare stage, with some oddly abrupt lighting by Axel Morgenthaler. Morgenthaler brought a more luscious, seductive and wizardly touch to “Scheherazade,” showing off the dancers to even greater advantage.
The stars here were David Harvey, as serial bride-killer King Shahryar, and Kara Wilkes, as Scheherazade, his latest wife whose storytelling keeps his murderous instincts at bay. An extended duet between the two of them, dancing each other past the point of exhaustion, is the centerpiece of the show. They brought a sumptuous flow to their tough, wrangling actions.
Another treat: a trio of short solos by Ricardo Zayas, Meredith Webster and Michael Montgomery, where each, in succession, fell out of a line of dancers only to rejoin them in a seamless yet unpredictable manner. The faunlike Montgomery was especially nimble in his footwork and leaps.
Robert Rosenwasser’s set design (including billowing fabric overhead that was half-tentlike, half-cloudlike) was pure magic. Rosenwasser and Colleen Quen’s costumes — more gauze than full-fledged fabric — completed the airy picture.
Best of all was tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain’s take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s score. Throbbing with percussive sounds of the Middle East, it put a kick into the dance action and lent an exotic dreaminess to the piece as a whole.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org