Groundbreaking ballet company to perform

imageAlonzo King’s Lines Ballet will wrap this season’s Artswego Performing Arts Series at SUNY Oswego with a performance of its dynamic dance work “Before the Blues” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

The Student Association Program Board helps sponsor the production.

Called “hip and hot, good looking and dancing deliciously on the edge” by the San Francisco Chronicle, this company creates original performances choreographed to music by known and emerging composers.

“A ballet is really thought made visible,” explained King, who founded the troupe in 1982 and has worked with more than 50 companies around the world. “The bottom line . . . is the communication of an idea.”

The troupe excels at communicating with its audiences, said Mary Avrakotos, coordinator of the Artswego Performing Arts Series. “This is a marvelous ensemble who breaks many barriers in terms of what one expects from a ballet company,” she said. “While you can see the skill and athleticism, King’s productions feature an edge and social statements related to the American experience.”

Created in 2004, “Before the Blues” is King’s newest work, featuring original music by jazz legend Pharaoh Sanders and recorded narration by actor Danny Glover. The piece, which also includes samples of early musical field recordings, explores the African-American experience after the end of slavery through a decades-long struggle for equality.

The Oswego performance also will feature the 1998 piece “Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner?” The work, a study of identity, features King’s choreography set to music by Zakir Hussain of India.

The Los Angeles Times has described King’s productions as “the most sophisticated modernism in classical dance,” adding: “Ballet choreographers who live—and create—solely in the present” are so rare that a talent “of his distinction must be accounted the artistic equivalent of a shooting star.”

The troupe’s residency will include a lecture/demonstration and body movement class, both at SUNY Oswego, and a combined lecture/demonstration and master class at Syracuse Stage, all on April 4. SUNY Oswego will host programs on April 5 that will include a cross-cultural collaboration seminar with King and a master class with the troupe’s ballet master, Arturo Fernandez. For more information on these programs, contact Artswego at 312-4581 or

The appearance of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet is funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from National Endowment for the Arts and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funding comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Tickets cost $22 ($18 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). For information or reservations, contact the Tyler Hall box office at or 312-2141.

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(Posted: Mar 08, 2005)