Alonzo King Lines review: Pure joy and energy that stretches the imagination

These two King dances ground themselves in tradition before launching brilliantly into contemporary choreography

Artist: Alonzo King

Venue: Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Date Reviewed: May 22nd, 2016

Alonzo King works democratically, and each of his 12 hand-picked dancers receive plenty of stage time in his two shows, Shostakovich and Rasa. His penchant towards equality allows the dancers’ supreme talent to stand out – just the kind of egalitarianism on which King has built his stellar reputation.

During the company’s only performance as part of the Dublin Dance Festival, the performers exude joy and a marvellous flow of energy between each other and within themselves, continually stretching beyond pure classical technique.

Their jaw-dropping natural facility explodes on to the stage during Shostakovich, a showcase for blasts of movement that alternate between fluidity, liquid-looking legs and hands that fascinate on their own. The group shifts into couples, individuals and various formations, at times sparking off each other and spawning in different directions. Deciding whether to watch dancers individually or as a whole becomes challenging, as the they wrap themselves around each other and then twist their limbs into shapes that stretch the imagination.

While Shostakovich begins with classical music as its base and launches into contemporary choreography, Rasa grounds itself in traditional Indian tabla music by Grammy-award winning musician Zakir Hussain and soaks classical ballet into its primordial themes. The stunning original music score, created as a collaboration between Hussain and King, marries pulsating and chant-filled melodies with ballet’s grace and elegance. It is perhaps the quintessential Alonzo King ballet.

In both ballets, the dancers have such solid technique they can do anything convincingly, reaching their legs skyward while standing en pointe, then quickly shifting direction as if the leg is merely an arrow pointing towards the next move. After the leggy ballerinas extend themselves, they also contract into more meditative postures that are equally beautiful.

In particular, dancer Babatunji captures shifts in energy so well that at times he looks like he might combust. With his undulating hands, supple torso and powerful legs, he embodies the music bounding across the stage, then slithers and oscillates into a near trance. Like his fellow dancers who seem to speak King’s choreography as if it’s their own language, Babatunji captures the spirit of togetherness while revelling in his own brilliance.