Babatunji in Biophony.
Photo by Quinn B. Wharton.
A dancer presses his body into the outline of a cone of light; the halo lifts upwards, a shofar sounds its lament, and Resin begins. As the piece moves from intimate duets to the flashing, barely visible footwork of a quartet of dancers, Alonzo King explores the possibilities of the vast and diverse field of Sephardic music. In this “Diaspora within the Diaspora,” as curator and ethnomusicologist Francesco Spagnolo writes, “the music of the Sephardic Jews has come into contact with music from Europe, including Italy and the Balkans, and especially with the Arabic and Turkish musical worlds.” Rare archival field recordings are interwoven with Judeo-Spanish songs, and the stage is transformed into a shimmering and timeless landscape, as tiny hardened tears cascade downwards in streams of light.
Alonzo King’s Scheherazade is a re-envisioning of the ancient collection of Persian, Sanskrit, and Arabic stories of 1,001 Nights. The exquisite dancers of LINES Ballet present a vision of the transformative potential these stories possess: the way that we are offered a chance to listen to a voice that can change our lives, the power of art to illuminate all the chambers of our hearts. The new score by tabla master Zakir Hussain re-interprets the original music by Rimsky-Korsakov, incorporating traditional Persian as well as Western instruments. Commissioned by the Monaco Dance Forum to inaugurate the Centenary of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s Scheherazade honors Diaghilev’s spirit of cutting-edge artistic collaboration, immersing audiences in a luminescent and richly textured world.