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LINES Ballet prods tradition

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Choreographer Alonzo King believes that dance has much more to offer than assurance and expectation. His dance company, LINES, merges classical technique with non-traditional and diverse music, moving the performances beyond staid ballet convention.

In 2005, King won the prestigious Bessie Award, the dance world's equivalent of an Oscar, given to performers who excel on New York City stages. But equally impressive are the collaborations imagined by his 24-year-old company.

Aside from working with African-American legends like jazz icon Pharoah Sanders and Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the a capella political activist group Sweet Honey in the Rock, he's joined with premier composers and musicians from across India, Africa, Europe and Asia.

The individual careers of LINES company dancers are equally impressive. They are former members of the Joffrey, New York City, Metropolitan Opera and Pacific Northwest ballets, to name just a few.

LINES' Colorado Springs appearance will showcase their unique multicultural spin on ballet, juxtaposing the baroque music of Handel with the percussive rhythms of Moroccan music. It's not necessarily a strange fit. Baroque's detailed and complex ornamentation is well-suited for the studied gestures of traditional ballet, and the Moroccan rhythms are natural extensions of the body's movement.

King points out that separating musical styles and techniques is easy, because ultimately, they all come from the same place. He believes that creative work is linked to self-actualization, as well as something spiritual.

"The real work is to realize why we are here and what we truly are. Being true to [oneself] doesn't mean catering to the whims of the weak, whining mortal self, but realizing the heroic godly self that remains hidden within," he says.

"In dance, you want to transcend the limitations of the little physical body and dive into the rhythm of the limitless galactic cosmic body. All dancers will tell you that in their greatest moments of dance, they felt not that they were dancing, but that they were being danced."

Movement first transfixed King at a strikingly young age.

"The first memories I have of movement are being a baby, lying in the crib watching my mother move as she was searching for something in the room. I recognized through sight and feeling the effect of her presence in space," he says. "I perceived her form clearly, but there was something that was being emitted from within her form. A soft rumbling of millions of subtle, flashing microscopic dots seemed to be animating her body."

That early awareness of the power of movement has translated into a body of work that, despite its diverse inspirations, is "all about clarity."

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"[I want to] remove debris that blocks light or inhibits flow, and clean the window so that you can see," King explains. "Every human being is a work of perfection whose inner genius has to be awakened to realize it. The aim for authenticity is a part of our life's work."

Bettina Swigger

capsule

Alonzo King's LINES Ballet

Pikes Peak Center,

190 S. Cascade Ave.

Friday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $17-47; call 520-7469 or visit

ticketswest.com for more info.

  • LINES Ballet prods tradition

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