(World Premiere April 21, 2016)
Its particular nothingness, and its potential for unimaginable power, has caused minds to liken sand to human beings for eons.
Sand is the uncountable aggregation, and yet today grains of sand can be estimated.
Sand can halt an engine. A grain of sand can temporarily blind you. It has been used as a metaphor for the passage of time, in hour glasses, and in dance as a listening process in how the body slowly shifts in transitions. There is power in the commonness of its abundance, its vast shapely beauty in dunes, on beaches, the desert, and the bottoms of oceans. Sand is the mineral cousin of water, it can be poured, and the wind can maneuver it into wave-like patterns.
Sand is used to polish and shape some of the hardest materials on the planet. You can hold sand by cupping your hands. When you grip it, it escapes through your fingers.
Sand is largely composed of quartz crystals. Quartz is primarily made up of silicon dioxide, which has a unique physical property of being piezoelectric, which lends itself for use as a primary foundation of circuit boards, and computer processors. It has often been said that human beings are like tiny pebbles placed together in tight proximity to cause friction until our edges become smooth.
Choreography by Alonzo King
Music by Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran
Lighting Design by Axel Morgenthaler
Set Design by Christopher Haas
Costume Design by Robert Rosenwasser
Costume Construction by Joan Raymond
SAND was made possible, in part, by the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, Marcia and Richard Grand, and the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Creating space is the way. I think of dancers as melody makers.
I have always been curious about how other artists complete their visions. What is the process? How do they locate the materials or collaborators that push the piece to the to a new plateau? Alonzo and LINES have been outstanding collaborators. The first time I saw LINES, they were performing to the music of jazz saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders. Later they performed to Zakir Husain’s tabla. I was in awe of how Alonzo translated the music into movement. And when we began working together, that would continue. How he hears, how he sees, and then distributes those ideas to the company... It’s phenomenal.
I love leaving space in the music. Letting ideas and sounds hang in space and slowly drift to the ground. When Alonzo and I work together, he reminds me to think about way that the music can hang in space, which in turn may become a pas de deux. Charles and I have always had a special relationship, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to present new music to Alonzo.
Movement has always been an important part of the jazz lifestyle. The music has a social function, and if the right song is playing, everyone will want to dance. I think Alonzo has a special way of connecting to that history and translating it into contemporary ballet. Unisons dissolve and return. I look forward to performing in this context because it highlights the sensitivity that I must maintain to best aid the dancers. I must play to the dancers. We need each other. And we must be sensitive to each other’s process. I can’t play something too fast or slow as it could possibly destroy everything. That is what we spend our time in rehearsals figuring out. How to do what when, and why. And then how to make it feel like every moment in the piece is a brand new moment. It’s a sublime feeling to capture this as a performer.
KQED Interview with Jason Moran:
"Jazz Pianist Jason Moran Stretches Into New Territory with Alonzo King LINES Ballet"
(Not playing? Click here.)
As a boy growing up in Memphis, I was immersed in a very fertile music culture. From the age of 3, I knew that I wanted to play the saxophone, but I also wanted to be a singer. Sadly, I found out early on that I didn’t have the voice for it. My mother enrolled me in Mabel Robinson’s ballet school where I showed some promise, but as soon as I got a saxophone at the age of 9, I abandoned my pliés and pas de deux to devote myself day and night to my instrument. It became my voice and my dance.
In the 1960s, when I lived in Greenwich Village, I became friends with Merce Cunningham who expanded my understanding of dance by leaps and bounds, by stops and starts, dangling arms and magnificent slides across a smooth floor. So, it is something of a full circle to find myself collaborating with Alonzo King and Jason Moran on SAND. Jason and I have been working together in my quartet and in duo for nearly a decade - we know each other’s language and sensibilities. Through this collaborative process, I am getting to know Alonzo’s language of movement in relation to sound and space. For me, this is a mysterious journey into the unknown. It gives me great joy to be part of this process.
Film by Khepera Batties. Footage taken April 24, 2016.