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 collaboration with the Grammy Award winning composer and bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer is a welcoming piece of stunning moments, heart-piercing melodies, and touches of narrative rarely seen in King’s choreography.
Created for the Company’s 30th anniversary, Meyer is lusciously textured with a striking backdrop of synchronized water created by the Academy Award winning designer Jim Doyle. Meyer speaks of the complexities of human behavior in a piece that pulses with playfulness. King’s solos and duets alternate from exhilarating tear-up-the-space dancing to his sensitive and at times contentious partnering.
Meyer’s commissioned score, an appealing mix of classical and jazz for cello, violin, double bass, and piano, gives the piece and the performers a feeling of improvisational freedom uniquely honoring the roots of both contemporary dance and classical ballet.