San Francisco’s acclaimed Alonzo King LINES Ballet performs Scheherazade and Resin (May 4)

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Scheherazade coyott-gilbert photo franck thibault
Scheherazade © photo: Franck Thibault

Alonzo King LINES Ballet makes its NAC debut on March 4 —and its forthcoming appearance has been so popular that an extra matinee performance (at 2 p.m. on May 4) has been added. Maybe it's the stunning company photo on the cover of the 2012-13 Dance brochure?

Why is the Company called LINES? Following that line of thought, founder/Artistic Director Alonzo King has said, "The term LINES alludes to all that is visible in the phenomenal world. There is nothing that is made or formed without a line. Straight and Circle encompass all that we see. Whatever can be seen is formed by a line. In mathematics it is a straight or curved continuous extent of length without breadth. Lines are in our fingerprints, the shapes of our bodies, constellations, geometry. A line of thought. A boundary or eternity. A melodic line. The equator. From vibration or dot to dot it is the visible organization of what we see." There. That's why.

The company invites you to enter an extraordinarily lush and exotic world when it performs Scheherazade and Resin. Both ballets feature intriguing and original uses of music -- the world music that Alonzo King has loved ever since he was a child. Scheherazade features both Western and Persian instruments and Resin uses rarely heard Sephardic pieces. Alonzo King says, “What is music? Consciousness of thought that is too sublime for words. Dance is thought made visible.” If King is more comfortable expressing ideas through dance than in words, he’s certainly earned high respect. Revered choreographer William Forsythe has called Alonzo King “one of the few, true Ballet Masters of our times. His intimacy with Ballet's multiple histories has made his choreography rich with the complex refractions that demonstrate a full command of the art's intricacies ..."

Scheherazade was originally a symphonic suite by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1888). It was based on ancient Persian, Sanskrit, and Arabic stories collectively known as One Thousand and One Nights, sometimes known as The Arabian Nights. These stories are tales told by Scheherazade to her husband the Sultan; when he has tired of her, he will have her beheaded, so it's in her best interests to keep the cliff-hangers coming. In 1910, Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo adapted the orchestra score into a ballet. Choreographed by Michel Fokine and designed by Léon Bakst -- featuring Vaslav Nijinsky as the "golden slave" -- the ballet was an orgiastic explosion of exoticism and escapism. Its surreal, vivid colors and Persian spectacle were hugely influential, initiating an all-encompassing vogue for Orientalism. It's amazing to consider the impact that a ballet had on popular culture, but remember: cinema was in its infancy, and ballet and opera were then the most popular forms of mass entertainment. Imagine opening night, with the dancers swirling in their fiery transparent garments, telling a story of erotic, unbridled passion. Scheherazade would continue to reverberate (especially in the world of fashion) like a revolutionary call to arms.

In 2009, Alonzo King was commissioned by the Monaco Dance Forum to create a modern version of Scheherazade to inaugurate the centenary of Les Ballets Russes. This Scheherazade honours Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev’s spirit of cutting-edge artistic collaboration, immersing audiences in a luminescent and richly textured world. Rimsky-Korsakov's thrilling score has been updated and reinterpreted by Zakir Hussain to include both Western and Eastern instruments -- in addition to the violin, harp and cello, the score incorporates traditional 5000-year-old instruments such as the rubab and nay, the Uzbek doira, and the Indian tabla.

Scheherazade has been extravagantly praised for its flamboyant study of Orientalist mood, sensuous and sensual, a marriage of new and old, classic and contemporary, East and West -- and also for the thrilling dancing of its "limber, attractive, technically fearless set of performers." The San Francisco Chronicle said, "King has created nothing finer in years."

Resin is a dramatic and original new ballet, a beautiful abstract work in which the company interprets rhythm and melody in a suite of solos, duets, and ensemble dances. Musical selections include songs from the Sephardic tradition, including rare archival field recordings interwoven with Judeo-Spanish songs. Each of the 15 sections connects the audience to a location from the Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East with different rhythms and instruments. Certain individual steps are repeated throughout Resin, allowing King to use different props and staging while keeping the piece cohesive. Alonzo King’s approach to movement is genius -- his vocabulary is classical but he shifts, sculpts, and molds it to create his own unique language. San Francisco Classical Voice wrote of Resin's cast, "Never have I seen dancers deployed so confidently as glorious interpreters and enhancers of rhythm and melody."

Alonzo King says that those who have never seen LINES Ballet perform might be in for a surprise. “They have seen it before,” King says. “If they’ve been to a sunset or experienced any kind of truth or met any kind of human being they’ve found interesting, that is what my work is. You don’t have to travel the world to know the world.”

Alonzo King LINES Ballet invites you to this most exotic world at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2013 -- don't miss it!


Post-Performance Chat

Saturday, May 4, 2013 Matinee

Join Alonzo King, after the Matinee on Saturday, May 4 for a special post-performance chat to share your experience of the performance. The 20 minute chat will take place in Southam Hall right after the show. (matinee only).

NAC Dance presents a Public Ballet Class with Arturo Fernandez, Ballet Master of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

Thanks to the generous support of the Embassy of the United States of America, Alonzo King LINES Ballet will be teaching a free dance master class for local Ottawa and Gatineau students.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013. From 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rehearsal Hall B, National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin Street, Ottawa
(Enter by Stage Door).

For intermediate level ballet students and dancers (aged 14 and up). As space is limited, you must register in advance with Kirsten Andersen, Dance Outreach Coordinator. Email:

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