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Alonzo King’s LINES ballet was absolutely riveting

Dana Muensterman

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Dancers dazzle during Alonzo King's LINES ballet at Laxson Auditorium Photo credit: Dana Muensterman

As we all gathered into Laxson Auditorium on Saturday, September 5, the excitement for the ballet never wavered through its entirety. Fidgety legs came to a complete halt as the lights dimmed, leaving a single spot illuminated on the large scarlet curtains. Once drawn, a baby-blue screen accentuated the figure of the ballet dancers that stood before us. Fog lingered in front of the lights, the music was cued, and the dancers had begun their stride across the stage as one. Goosebumps covered arms and legs as the audience sat in astonishment of Alonzo King’s genius.

Stephen Cummins, director of Chico Performances, recounted the incredible beauty of the quintet at the end of the first show. Five men danced together, four in harmony while one ventured the stage alone.

“There was something about it, that it was just beautiful,” Cummins said during the intermission.

The four men glided around the gray-fogged stage in the most mesmerizing way, slowly walking around and observing the soloist. At times the four others would join together and dance without breaking their bond, creating a harmonious effect.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for male dancers. I’ve always been jealous of what they can do, so that was pretty incredible,” said former dancer, Karen Weintraub.

Weintraub was a classically trained ballerina who ended her dancing career at age 18, so she said attending these performances can be emotional and very nostalgic for her. Yet someone who could relate knows just how much work it takes to put together a phenomenal performance.

“That’s a part of why it’s so hard, because you have to make it look so easy,” she said.

Chico locals Alan and Debbie have been coming to Laxson auditorium for over 35 years and were also astounded by the impressive dancers. Alan noted the way the dancers all flowed together, admiring the incredible movements and their strength and agility.

Although, they were unaware of what was to come next.

Funded by White Bird and the New England Foundation for the Arts, “Biophony” opened after intermission. A single ballerina danced in the middle of the stage without music and green lights flickered around her. Our ears attentive to any slight noise, and just as we waited we heard the buzz of crickets chirping.

As more dancers joined the stage the crickets soon evolved into noises of rustling leaves. The lights turned into an orange hue, and a lion’s roar was heard in the distance. The the lion’s growls grew louder and louder as the ballerinas danced faster and faster.

“I liked the music in the first half because you could go along with it, but the second half was just insane,” said Hayley Hibbens, a former ballerina and also a junior at CSU Chico. “Their timing has to be spot on for everything; there is no count when there are just sounds like that.”

The second half of the ballet used a soundtrack that had been created from 40 years of traveling the world with a microphone. The sounds were so intense, one felt like they were really in the lion’s den, swimming with the whales, or running away frantically from swarming bees.

“We’re always studying how animals relate to humans, but in this piece they obviously had to learn how humans relate to animals, which is so interesting,” sophomore Kelly Steinhauer said.

The costumes that the dancers wore in “Biophony” moved with the sounds of the animals, or the sounds of the waves. Sheer dresses worn by many ballerinas would suspend in midair as if being taken by the wind. Feathery skirts and furry pants moved with the imprecise rhythm of nature.

As the dancers rushed onto the stage for their final adieu, the audience, in pure amazement, gave a standing ovation for Alonzo King’s LINES ballet.

Dana Muensterman can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Alonzo King’s LINES ballet was absolutely riveting