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Dance: Alonzo King Lines Ballet Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2020

Introduction

Alonzo King Lines Ballet is a famous contemporary ballet company that has created numerous performances that combine classical and modern techniques (“About” par. 1). Each performance is a story of different people coming from different worlds. Thus, Rasa is a story inspired by Northern India courts of the 18th century and told with the help of specific insights of Zakir Hussain (Berman par. 5). The performance makes a great impression on the viewer who seems to be absorbed by the world created.

Choreography

Choreography is one of the strongest aspects of the performance. Zakir Hussain manages to use classical and modern techniques. He also utilizes movements form Indian dances. The mix of these three (quite different techniques) results in a very homogenous story told in dance. The choreography is very energetic and sometimes even violent, as it seems that dancers want to reach and go beyond some limits. The combination of solos, duos, and group dances creates an impression of a mosaic.

Dancers’ Level of Technique

The level of dancers’ technique is rather high though there were some flaws. The dancers’ movements were precise. However, sometimes, it seemed it was difficult for some dancers to create certain figures or produce movements. Irrespective of these flaws, the overall impression of the dancers’ performance is very positive. They moved easily and with a great deal of precision. It was especially interesting to observe the way the dancers switched from classical movements to Indian or contemporary movements.

For instance, the dancers start swirling, and right after the combination of classical movements, there are Indian figures and dancing techniques. It is also interesting to observe the way classical stretches are intermingled with quite contemporary curves. Dancers effectively used the space.

They could use the entire stage or only a small part of it. The choice depended on the story told. Sometimes dancers were telling an intimate story of the two, and they were very close, almost tied to each other. There were also group dances when the dancers were ‘scattered’ across the stage, and each of them had his/her own space.

Use of Music

The use of music is another remarkable aspect of the performance. Indian melodies and sounds create a really special atmosphere. Again, there is a mix of styles as such instruments as violin and drums are used. There is also singing. As has been mentioned above, the story is set in the 18th-century Indian court, and music is the primary tool that creates the necessary mood.

Notably, there is no need in settings or specific costumes. The music and choreography made up an inseparable device that enabled the performers to tell their stories. It is clear that the stories are symbolic, and people are ready to focus on meaningful things only.

Sets

As far as the setting is concerned, it is minimal. The stage is empty with curtains highlighted in different shades of red and yellow. The choice of such a setting is very symbolic. The entire attention is drawn to the dancers and the dance. There is no need to distract the viewer from forming the story by adding some additional setting. The music is a very strong element of the composition, and it can be regarded as all the necessary setting.

Costumes

Costumes are also very simple. It seems that dancers are without any clothes at all. The color of the clothes is of mild tinges. Again, this is done to make a focus on the dance and dancers’ movements. It is also important to note that the costumes are made of very light cloth. This adds an impression of some spiritual component. At times, it seemed that spirits came from another world to tell their stories.

Props

As has been mentioned above, the stage is empty with no props at all. Performers do not use any props. This also enhances the spiritual component of the performance. It is necessary to add that props would simply spoil the impression as they would look odd and out of place. The dancers’ bodies and their movements (and their emotions) are central to the performance. Therefore, there is no need to distract the viewer with some objects.

Lighting

Lighting contributed greatly to the creation of the necessary atmosphere. The stage was dimmed, and islands of light were created for dancers. It also created an impression that the dancers, as well as the audience, were in the Indian court in numerous rooms and corridors of great palaces and temples. The light was of different colors, and it added a certain meaning to each story. Sometimes it was a soft light with tinges of orange and yellow, and sometimes it was rather intense (and even clinical) white.

The intention of the Pieces

As has been mentioned above, the pieces were different stories told by dancers. Those were love stories and stories of life and death, pain and sorrow, joy, and happiness. However, there was one characteristic feature shared by all pieces. Each piece was to evoke feelings and ideas that might seem very peculiar to the viewer.

The pieces evoke emotions that are hidden deep inside each person’s heart. The pieces build a certain spiritual connection with each viewer. Thus, each piece can be very different for each viewer. Hence, a personal story is created for each who sees the story from the perspective of his/her background.

Personal Insight of the Piece

I, personally, find the performance very evoking. In the first place, I think the choreography had a significant impact on me. I have seen some pieces where styles and techniques are combined. However, this performance changed my attitude toward such combinations. Now, they seem very natural to me. I also think that performance reflects the essence of contemporary society.

Even though it is a story of the 18th-century Indian court, it seems that the dancers are telling a story of the western society where so many trends are combined and mixed. I was also glad to see that my view on the minimal set as the best option for contemporary dance is correct. I also had the impression that the performance created a new spiritual world.

I would also like to add that I noticed some imperfections in the dancers’ performance, and they made me feel a bit frustrated. I find the whole piece stunning, and I believe that those little imperfections have to be removed as they distract from the performance. My overall impression is still very positive. I think all the people in the audience share my feelings.

Works Cited

About. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <https://www.linesballet.org/company/about/>.

Berman, Janice. “Alonzo King Lines Ballet Remarkable Form.” San Francisco Classical Voice 15 November 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2008.

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