Alonzo King LINES Ballet's 2017 Spring Home Season premieres a collaboration with Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club. Holman is a poet, spoken word performer, professor, impresario, activist, filmmaker, and host of "Language Matters", Berkeley Film Festival’s 2015 Documentary of the Year that focuses on the rapid extinction of languages and the efforts to save and preserve them.
The ballet will feature a sound score compilation of recorded text and music played on traditional instruments. Selections will be made from Holman's collection of poetry recordings from members of communities and indigenous cultures with endangered languages. King will develop movement and choreography with the dancers, inspired by the text’s meaning, timbre, sonority, and tempo.
Holman’s language preservation work has shed light on the fact that the world loses a language every two weeks. Of the 6,000 languages remaining, half will have vanished by the end of the century. With the loss of a language, we lose a wealth of knowledge, culture, and traditions that have been embedded in that language -- often detailed and subtle, not easily extracted or translated.
Holman describes language as “a force at the very center of culture, pulling all its many strands together.” A language gives life meaning, through myths, stories, songs and rituals. It allows individuals to connect, and to differ, as the way people perceive the world is bound up to some degree in the languages they speak. Documentation of at-risk languages is seen as vital for preserving culture, knowledge, ways of doing things and ways of thinking.
King calls his works “thought constructs” and sees ballet as a scientific language, which explores and makes visible truths as they exist in all cultures. He believes that the journey from ideation into the physical world is similar for the movement as it is for words. Through his choreography, he develops new phrases of movement from the traditional forms of this language, imbuing classic ballet with new expressive potential. Therefore, it is a natural partnership to use dance as a vehicle to bring alive rare and dying linguistic wonders for a broader community.
This project will be an exploration as to how language informs the production of movement phrases and an investigation as to how language relates to cultural and intellectual diversity and identity.
This season will include a Gala on Saturday, May 6, 2017.
Learn more about the Gala
For the Company’s touring schedule, click here.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet benefits from the support of Bank of the West / BNP Paribas Foundation for the development of its projects.