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Lines Ballet 25th anniversary opening program

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Did anyone else see Lines Ballet's opening program last week? It's repeating again starting tonight, and is well worth seeing if only for the incredible pas de deux in the second piece, Rasa. There were two pieces, Irregular Pearl, set to Baroque music played by members of the Philhamornia Baroque Orchestra, and Rasa, set to Indian tabla music by Zakir Hussain and Kala Ramnath. I didn't find the first piece memorable, though it was full of beautiful movement typical of his dancers and style: sort of a sinuous adagio quality at any speed of movement.

Rasa however was something completely different. Lines had given a preview of the pas and some other sections of the piece at OCPAC's Fall For Dance last month, and I was very excited to see it again. The pas, danced by Laurel Keen and Brett Conway, was like a physical embodiment of yin and yang: juxtaposing struggle against cooperation, effort vs. ease. At times, the burnt sepia tones of the lighting and simple set implied two people struggling across a desert parched. They would alternately drag each other across the floor, push each other away, and come together again. What was remarkable about this display of struggle was that it was articulate (King has a talent for making even the smallest gestures read well from long distances), seamless, and integrated with classical ballet technique. Often choreography that tries to integrate prosaic movement with classical technique look arbitrary and like the choreographer had a checklist for the moves --- they seem to come in because no one had flexed a foot for a few minutes now. In this pas, no matter what awkward position --- rolling on the floor, the girl climbing onto the hunched back of the boy, dragging the other dancer by the heels --- they were moving into, it all seemed to be a natural consequence of what they had been doing.

Some contemporary ballets fracture technique and take it apart, which can be interesting, but the results can be somewhat abstract. This one relates it to life as it's being lived today, and removes ballet from its aristocratic aloofness, but still finds nobility in the movement it portrays.

It that wasn't enough, a series of solos followed the pas that had the dancers doing very fast, rhythmically complex, and sharp upper and lower body movements that had ballet dancers moving like I've never seen ballet dancers move before. I kept thinking of the krumping documentary Rize which disclaims that all the dancing the movie was done at actual speed, and nothing was sped up by editing.

Anyway, go see it --- it's probably the best pas de deux you will see in a long time, and you won't get to see dancers move like this very often.


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