Babatunji in Biophony.
Photo by Quinn B. Wharton.
Choreographed to Bach’s concerto in D Minor (utilized famously by George Balanchine in 1941), Concerto for Two Violins is a sleek and sharp salute to ballet’s past while marking the continued evolution of neoclassicism. Balanchine’s training in music theory provided one visual conception of the score. As King investigates the densely layered contrapuntal voices for himself, we hear beloved melodies anew. San Francisco Chronicle dance critic Alan Ulrich wrote that the piece delivered what LINES Ballet audiences have come to expect: “dancing of immense pliancy and emotional resonance by a team of amazingly resilient performers who relish the challenges that King’s choreography throws their way.”
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.