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Strong Kung Fu 

Wednesday, May 28 2008
For decades, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet has disrobed ballet of its grandiosity and hoity-toity ramifications. The troupe of athletic, graceful dancers forego dainty pointe work and neoclassical pomp to deliver a movement lexicon rooted in beautiful allegories that defy time or place. King, who has worked with a passel of world musicians (including an African pygmy tribe), resuscitates his collaboration with seven monks from Freemont's Shaolin Temple in Long River, High Sky. Shaolin monks, whose history goes back to the sixth century BCE, draw from Taoist concepts of meditation and self-scrutiny, along with kung fu, and the connection to King's precise dancers is palpable. Ballet and martial arts are both invested in "moving energy" and finding alignment despite the limitations of our physical forms. Highly kinetic kung fu moves like the "dragon" or "tiger" are paired with the ballet dancers' sinuous steps; sometimes, the monks and dancers even try on one another's shoes, proving that whether you're a warrior or a prima ballerina, movement is a vernacular that transcends categories. The synthesis of Eastern and Western forms is also reflected in the music, with Miguel Frasconi's industrial electro-discordance juxtaposed with the dulcet sounds of Hong Kong-based ensemble Melody of China.
May 30-June 1, 8 p.m., 2008

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Nirmala Nataraj


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