Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Novellus Theatre at the YBCA 10/19/2011 [Review]

Award-winning choreographer Alonzo King is famous for his ability to express global traditions through contemporary ballet. For the 2011 Fall Season, which runs at the Novellus Theatre in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through Sunday, October 23, LINES Ballet kicks off the show with the premiere of Resin, a piece that’s set to Sephardic music, and ends the night with 1998’s Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner?, which is set to tabla music by Zakir Hussain. After the show this past Wednesday, Alonzo King sat with the audience for a Q&A session, where he remarked on the ubiquitous, all-encompassing nature of art and artistry and the fulfillment it provides. He also made a self-affirming comment to the audience: “We are all gods.” Based on what I saw that night, I am inclined to agree.

Yujin Kim and Ricardo Zayas. Photo by Quinn B. Wharton. Courtesy of Mona Baroudi PR.

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Faustin Linyekula/ Studios Kabako at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [Review]

For Americans in the 21st Century, the concept of “punk” is unbelievably stale, but in some other parts of the world, not perverted by the whole “suburban mall punk” culture, that word still signifies promise and vitality. Late 1970s punk is what inspired Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula to create his new piece More, more, more… future, which was first shown in San Francisco on September 29th at the YBCA. Linyekula and his team, including the prominent guitarist Flamme Kapaya, attempted to combine punk’s scorched-earth approach and political urgency with the culture of ndombolo, based around a very sensual and hedonistic Congolese pop music style.

Photo by Agathe Poupeney.

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Smuin Ballet Fall Season 2011 [Review]

Offering a diverse range of touching pieces, Smuin Ballet’s 2011 Fall Program has an engaging program that upholds the company’s reputation for innovation. The fall season runs from Friday, September 23 to Saturday, October 1 in the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. The 2011 Fall Program contains four pieces, three of which are Smuin classics (Tango Palace, Stabat Mater and Eternal Idol). For me, however, the highlight of the program was definitely the last piece: Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert’s world premiere of Dear Miss Cline.

The Smuin Ballet Company in Dear Miss Cline, a world premiere by Amy Seiwert at the Palace of Fine Arts as a part of Smuin Ballet's fall program. Photo by David DeSilva.

Those who aren’t familiar with Smuin Ballet should know first and foremost that this company doesn’t do The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, fluffy tutus or the dizzying fouetté rond de jambe en tournant a la Natalie Portman’s dancing double in The Black Swan – though I have no doubt they could if they wanted to. The company’s founder, Michael Smuin (1938-2007), was a principal dancer, choreographer and theater director, having worked with prestigious ballet companies, on Broadway and in film/television, and his aesthetic represents his cumulative experience. Now under the leadership of Artistic Director Celia Fushille, this company continues to be known for its highly accessible and innovative style, which fuses the technique and grace born of classical ballet with contemporary tropes.

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