Asking Alonzo King to describe a dance he has choreographed is, to paraphrase Rodgers and Hammerstein, like trying to pin down a cloud. “Often the surface of things is what people are drawn to. But as the art maker, you are continually chiseling to try to get to the essence of what things are,” said King, artistic director of LINES Ballet, the San Francisco company he founded thirty years ago. That’s as literal as he’s willing to get. “If I could describe it,” he reasoned, “it would mean that I didn’t do a good job.”
Fortunately, what King doesn’t put into words, he puts into dance: dance that is mesmerizing, breathtakingly athletic, deeply musical, and nearly spiritual. It’s a safe bet that those qualities are manifest in the world premiere he created for LINES to perform with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, one of the world’s premier interpreters of contemporary dance, at Zellerbach Hall (Bancroft Way and Dana St., UC Berkeley) on Friday and Saturday, February 1-2. Expect the merger of these two renowned troupes to be infused with soul and passion, exceptional artistry, and the thrill of the unexpected.
“That’s one of my goals, to see where dance can go next,” said Glenn Edgerton, Hubbard’s artistic director. “If you’re going to be really progressive, you’ve got to put it out there and try new things.” Hubbard has set a high bar for contemporary dance over its 35 years, with a repertory that includes Nacho Duato, Jirí Kylián, and Mats Ek, plus countless commissions. Edgerton, its eagle-eyed curator for the past three years, proposed the collaboration after watching a LINES rehearsal.
His original idea was to juxtapose LINES’ balletic style with what he describes as Hubbard’s earthier movement. But “as fascinating as diversity and difference is,” King said, “I’m more intrigued by commonality. That idea of the ‘me’ dissolving into ‘you’ was really interesting to me — that two companies would come together to create something that was unusual for both of them.” The resulting work, as yet unnamed but set to a score by Ben Juodvalkis, will be revealed at its Berkeley debut.
The program also includes two additional works to be performed by Hubbard alone: the Bay Area premiere of Too Beaucoup, created by Batsheva Dance Company veteran Sharon Eyal and techno producer Gaï Behar, with an eclectic soundtrack ranging from Gang of Four to Cole Porter; and the West Coast premiere of Little mortal jump, by Hubbard dancer and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, set to music by Philip Glass, Max Richter, and more. 8 p.m., $30-$68. 510-642-9988 or CalPerformances.org