Now in its 42nd season, the San Francisco based Alonzo King LINES Ballet returns to The Segerstrom Center for the Arts on January 20, 2024 at 7:30 pm with “ART WORKS,” a collection of exquisite moments from repertoire spanning 22 years. The music on this program at The Segerstrom Center covers a wide range of music traditions including blues, Italian baroque, pop, and jazz, along with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Tibetan Buddhist music. Tickets begin at $29 and are on sale HERE.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Alonzo King over the telephone and he said that he was really looking forward to returning to The Segerstrom Center and that he truly enjoys working there. I asked about the stage that LINES Ballet will be performing on. “Jeff, it is such a nice, large stage for the dancers,” Mr. King said. “They can really move!”

Alonzo King LINES Ballet - Dancer: Maya Harr - Photo © RJ-Muna

Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancer: Maya Harr – Photo ©RJ Muna

Under the title “ART WORKS,” the program will include movements from Dust and Light, Following the Subtle Current Upstream, Child of Sky and Earth, Suite Etta, Resin, and Writing Ground. “We put together excerpts from those 42 years of ballets,” he said. “It has thrilled audiences so we thought that we would bring it to The Segerstrom.”

Mr. King’s Child of Sky and Earth premiered in 2021 featuring the incredible Tiler Peck, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and also joined forces with the powerful voices of baritone voice of GRAMMY Award-winning artist Gregory Porter and South African singer-songwriter Miriam Makeba. LINES Ballet will be only presenting, however, excerpts from Child of Sky and Earth so Peck, Porter and Makeba will not be performing.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet - Dancer: Babatunji - Photo ©RJ Muna

Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancer: Babatunji – Photo ©RJ Muna

Mr. King and I were discussing how one chooses the title for a dance and obviously it varies from work to work. “I think often they come right away and other times it’s laborsome,” he said. “To put in one word or a sentence the essence of what you’re addressing. Sometimes it just makes sense and it comes immediately. Other times because you’re pressured by marketing – months ahead of time ‘Give us a title!’”  Mr. King said that he wanted to ask people “Can’t you just say that it is a new work and I’ll give you the title when it comes,” he said with a chuckle.

Even during the pandemic, LINES Ballet continued working by putting out a series of films titled There Is No Standing Still, which The New York Times and The Guardian included in their respective “Best Dance of 2020” lists. Mr. King said that much of the work created for this film series went into his piece Deep River. These films are still available at the company’s LINES Connected site.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet - Dancer: Michael Montgomery - Photo: ©RJ Muna

Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancer: Michael Montgomery – Photo: ©RJ Muna

When a company is on tour, it runs into many different sizes of stages, backstage crews and promoters. I asked Mr. King how it is working at The Segerstrom Center. Mr. King has not only been to The Segerstrom with LINES Ballet but also with American Ballet Theatre, to do the film “Misty” and several other groups.

“When you are at a theater, you are in a partnership and the chemistry has to be right, and the respect,” he answered. “They are the most gracious, open, ready to serve, do whatever possible group of people. The technical crew is your partner. I love going there and everyone is friendly. It is a hub and a place where dance lovers and creators go from all over the place. It’s wonderful to be in that space.”

Alonzo King LINES Ballet - Dancers: Shuaib Elhassan and Madeline DeVries - Photo: ©RJ Muna

Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancers: Shuaib Elhassan and Madeline DeVries – Photo: ©RJ Muna

The press release stated that the performance “seeks to answer the very basic question of what it means to be human through movement, music, and the power of sharing the experience together.”  I asked Mr. King to elaborate.

“All of the works that are in the series come from the idea that human beings are looking for happiness. People want joy in their lives, he said. “The underlying denominator for all human beings on planet Earth is that we want to avoid pain and suffering and we want some kind of joy that never goes stale.”

Alonzo King LINES Ballet - Dancer Adji Cissoko - Photo: ©RJ Muna

Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancer Adji Cissoko – Photo: ©RJ Muna

“Now, what does that really mean,” he asked. “It means that whether we are conscious of it or not, we want self-realization.”

Mr. King went on to explain that he believes that there is a point in our lives when we realize that our senses of touch, taste, hearing, smell, etc. are not enough to provide us with complete information. “In a scientific sense, we want precision, we want reality, and we want that reality to be a return to joy,” he added. For many who have the opportunity to attend a performance of LINES Ballet, what they experience is joy!

Mr. King ended with a quote by Indian-American Hindu monk, yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda. “Self-realization is the knowing—in body, mind, and soul –that we are one with the omnipresence of God; that we do not have to pray it come to us, that we are not merely near it at all times, but that God’s omnipresence is our omnipresence; that we are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be.  All we have to do is improve our knowing.”

WHAT: Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents “ART WORKS”
WHERE: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
WHEN: January 20, 2024 at 7:30 pm
TICKETS: Prices begin at $29

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit The Segerstrom Center for the Arts website or call their box office Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm at (714) 556-2787.

For more information about Alonzo King LINES Ballet, please visit their website.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Alonzo King LINES Ballet – Dancers: Josh Francique and Babatunji – Photo: ©RJ Muna.