By Kathi E.B. Ellis for WFPL
January 30, 2017
Friday evening saw the Louisville premiere of California-based Alonzo King Lines Ballet at the Brown Theatre. The company brought two new works, both of which it premiered in 2016.
“Art Songs,” a ballet in four movements set to a wide range of classical songs, is a beautiful integration of soaring musical arias with human relationships and emotion expressed through movement. Sung by Maya Lahyani, the arias of Bach, Handel, Schumann and Purcell remind us that music is one of the most un-mediated of art forms, embodying our deepest tragedies and our highest aspirations. King’s choreography reflects on and amplifies these ideas.
The first movement, “Ebarme Dich” from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, showcased the full company in a series of duets and solos. The full company also performed the third movement, Schumann’s “Stille Tranen.”
A fascinating aspect of King’s choreography is that his movements are frequently contrapuntal to the music, giving a sense of syncopation rather than being married to the thematic progression of the music. This juxtaposition serves to heighten the abstract narrative of relationship set against music selections that aspire to the sacred.