Alonzo King LINES Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow, 7-18


Courtney Henry, Biophony.

Alonso King LINES Ballet is an interesting small company, consisting of only 13 dancers focusing on contemporary ballet works. LINES performed at Jacob’s Pillow Saturday evening and the high level of technique and dramatic expressiveness of the dancers was impressive. This is the first time I’ve seen the San Francisco-based company and, not knowing what to expect, was greatly impressed by the dancers. Noteworthy among the men were Michael Montgomery with rapid, clean movements infused with great technique (Michael graduated from the LINES Ballet and Dominican University Bachelor of Fine Arts Program and made the list of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2013) and Rob Beresford, with nice timing and line. Rob is a native of Canada and trained at Canada’s National Ballet School. Among the women, I liked Kara Wilkes with her modest grace and style. Kara is a native of Wisconsin and began her career with the Milwaukee Ballet Company. Like Michael, she was named to Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” 2009.


Kara Wilkes with Robb Beresford in background, Biophony.

The program consisted of three recent Alonzo King works. My favorite was Concerto For Two Violins (2013) set to Bach’s Concerto For Two Violins in D minor, the same score as Balanchine’s Concerto Baroco. Think of the piece as an updated Concerto Barocco. The piece flowed nicely and consisted of three segments. The first part featured Michael and Robb, clad in minimalistic shorts with no shirt. It is a multifaceted section with Michael and Robb dancing in synch with a number of turning movements with supporting dancers providing support. The second section featured two couples dancing in various combinations, at times struggling with each other and moving with great hesitation. Possibly a metaphor of relationships. The last segment featured lush arabesques and panches from the women.

All the dancers worked hard Saturday evening as it was extremely humid with no air conditioning in the Ted Shawn Theatre. The men did not wear shirts in most of the works and sweat poured down their bodies, their heads acting as sprinklers as they ripped off turns. Not the easiest partnering assignment as partners were drenched with sweat, but the couples pulled it off.

The second work was King’s Men’s Quintet (2008) with Michael Montgomery and four other dancers set to the inspiring Violin Concerto Movement I by Edgar Meyer with Pharoah Sanders. Michael’s dancing was impressive, although I didn’t understand how his movements were connected to the other four men.

The short evening of dance (90 minutes with one 20 minute intermission) wrapped up with King’s Biophony (2015). The work is set to sounds of nature captured by Dr. Bernie Krause with music by Richard Blackford. The work is a nature piece as dancers mimic animals to the background sounds of crickets from the American Southwest, elephants in Central African Republic, Amazonian frogs, baboons, and cliff swallows from the American Northwest. Intriguing watching ballet mimic nature with women in crab-like poses and an array of dancers frantically circling the stage set to the sounds of bees. However, after the novelty wore off, the work became repetitive and tiring.