On March 21st, Parlay House hosted thirty women for an intimate evening to watch LINES Ballet rehearse for their Spring Season, to new music by the great tabla master Zakir Hussain. The rehearsal was directed by renowned choreographer Alonzo King, who founded LINES Ballet in 1982 in San Francisco.
Alonzo’s artistic vision was present throughout the rehearsal, where his blending of cultures was omnipresent. The audience watched first hand the attention and keen eye that went behind developing a ballet performance. For example, watching King direct dancer Michael Montgomery’s slow fall to the ground was visually dramatic; he directed Montgomery as he changed positions of his strong arms, the direction of his feet, and the angles of his hip- each movement conducted step by step by King. After the rehearsal, Montgomery, a graduate of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet program, explained how every rehearsal was a new learning experience with King. Even during solo sessions, he felt like it was a teamwork as everyone’s collective success made the dance strong.
Adji Cissoko, an athletic and graceful dancer echoed the sentiment and shared excitement of being part of a unique group in which the dancers’ diversity was celebrated. While traditional ballet focuses on the graceful movements of female dancers, in this rehearsal, it was impressive to watch Cissoko and other women showcase athleticism and strength with fierce expressions.
When the rehearsal ended, King spoke to the group about his legacy, the inspiration, and his collaboration with Hussain, a relationship that spans over twenty years. In honor of LINES Ballet’s 35th year, the music for this performance is an original creation for King. Working with a a world renowned musician and perhaps the most famous Indian classical musician today also shows King’s love and appreciation of blending Eastern and Western arts and challenging traditional norms.
The rehearsal was followed by a cozy gathering of the audience, dancers, and coreographers. This was a unique opportunity to connect with other women, for many of whom this was their first ballet rehearsal. Getting a chance to speak openly with the dancers gave everyone to chat not only about their dance careers, but about their place in the community and future ambitions. Like all Parlay House events, this was an opportunity to gather new friends and colleagues from around San Francisco to meet and have a topical discussion while expanding connections. With popular demand, this was the second time that Parlay House hosted a rehearsal of Alonzo King’s performance. To learn more about the Spring Season starting on April 6, visit their website here.