Choreographer Alonzo King approaches dance as continuous lines in the universe. Non-stop movement characterized the Visions and Voices program by his company, LINES, engaging the eye in such a way that blinking felt too long an interruption from the astonishments on stage.
King’s new work, Biophony focused the evening. Sometimes fluid and graceful, and other times purposely shaky and unstable, his movement celebrated a time when humans were more attuned to nature. Twelve dancers responded to Bernie Krause‘s soundscape of mosquitoes buzzing, lions roaring, waves crashing and rain pelting down, among other things, by allowing such sonic vibrations to influence their bodies’ lines.
Kara Wilkes and Michael Montgomery especially moved in ways that placed you into a different world. In one of the more captivating moments, Wilkes slowed down and seemed to poof into the air like a seeded dandelion. Behind her, Montgomery, a headstrong gazelle in an ecstatic state of whirling dervish, spun and leapt, landing on the covered stage without making a single sound. In fact, throughout the program, you never heard the tapping of feet or the thud of a landing, all of which served to fully immerse us in King’s and Krause’s environment.
Adding to the surreal atmosphere were the costumes by Robert Rosenwasser, mainly characterized by a light, sheer-colored tunic over their leotards, which clouded their movements with a hazy aura. Billowy pants lengthened the dancers’ legs and occasionally smudged lines. This design enhanced the contrast created by the interchanging crisp and shadowed shapes against the dark background.
Alex Morganthaler‘s lighting design used light and shadow to enhance dancers’ silhouettes against and behind the scrim, further heightening the sense of unknowing the choreography evoked. Biophony ended with a bright flash of light that suddenly went on overhead before quickly dying as the stage faded to a pitch black.
King offered a counterbalance to Biophony by starting the evening’s program with a piece to Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. A celebration of unity and the human need for support from one’s community pronounced itself in the middle section, “Largo Ma Non Tanto,” for two men and two women, gently falling and catching each other as they flowed together as one. Despite the structured and mechanical music, King’s mark of continuous movement strongly characterized the dance, keeping in line with the theme of the night.
The second work on the program, Men’s Quintet, addressed isolation. Five male dancers stood shirtless on the stage in shiny jeans, bolted together before Brett Conway‘s solo revealed vulnerability.
Thundering rounds of applause followed every dance. At first one dancer beamed back, but progressively across the evening, all twelve felt the electricity from the crowd and felt the love. They looked as though they had not expected such warmth. The feeling was mutual.