Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Triangle of the Squinches"

Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
April 16, 2011

Alonzo King LINES Ballet's newest production, "Triangle of the Squinches" featured an all-star artistic line-up: choreography by Alonzo King, set design by architect Christopher Haas and music by Mickey Hart.  "Triangle of the Squinches" definitely celebrated the contributions of these three amazing visions; the individual pieces showcasing how each has mastered their craft.  Such an immense talent pool would suggest a work of deep artistic collaboration though, hope and reality do not always add up.  The three units (dance, set and music) were striking on their own, but on the whole, the piece lacked cohesiveness. 

Act I found the LINES Ballet dancers moving amidst a 'loom-like' set with long white stretchy fibers attached to a frame.  The structure was both modular and pliable; sections could be detached and shifted in order to change the dimension and the strings could be pulled and flexed allowing movement and travel through the impermanent wall.  The dancers interacted a little with this first set piece but not enough to actually integrate the two entities artistically.  Here, the set was less of a theatrical tool and more of a backdrop.  The bare stage at the opening of Act II gave the audience a chance to experience the movement completely unencumbered (particularly the extraordinary quality of Courtney Henry's balances).  Then, the second set piece emerged - a fence-like form that looked to be made of industrial strength cardboard.  Though the dance and design still suffered from some level of disassociation, Act II was markedly better than Act I.  The potential for meaning when the two are enmeshed was especially apparent in segment four.  As Keelan Whitmore crawled across the front of the fence, King's choreography and Haas' set spoke to issues of fear, safety, and security.  And, as dancers reached for him from the other side through the structural gaps, one could sense the longing and yearning for that which we can see and touch but cannot have.   

Even though I found "Triangle of the Squinches" to have some formal challenges, the audience response was overwhelmingly positive and supportive on Saturday night.  And, I do agree that the piece was captivating.  But, based on my previous experience with King's fantastic work, it didn't quite meet my expectation.  "Triangle of the Squinches" was good, but with a deeper connection between the artistic components, I think it could be great.

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