Babatunji in Biophony.
Photo by Quinn B. Wharton.
Rasa, a deeply evocative and shimmering piece, set to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, which was called “an intriguing wonder” by the New York Times. Zakir Hussain’s mastery of classical Indian percussion and unique vision of world music have brought him worldwide renown, including a Grammy nomination, and his collaborations with Alonzo King renew classical forms in an entirely innovative way. Tabla music began as dancing music, in Northern Indian courts in the early 1700s, and its hypnotic intensity and complex rhythms convey the strong feeling that they are meant to move the body. Rasa is thus both a continuation of a deep tradition--the interdependence of dance and tabla music as art forms--and an expression of the contemporary global vision of both artists.
“I am always hoping my music will move its audience,” jazz composer Jason Moran said of this collaboration with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Refraction marked the first time Moran had composed for dance, and he confided that his first experience watching Alonzo King and the LINES dancers in the studio was “a breakthrough—I wasn’t ready for what I witnessed.” Named “the most provocative thinker in current jazz” by Rolling Stone, Jason Moran is both steeped in the traditions of jazz and committed to pushing its boundaries. Refraction unites Moran and King as they open up new avenues for jazz and ballet as art forms—and create a vivid new dialogue between those forms. Voice of Dance described this piece as bringing together “an astonishingly flexible and fearless team of dancers, arresting choices of music, an intense, brooding atmosphere, and a movement style that begins with a ballet base, subjects the body to all manner of non-balletic flourishes, yet ultimately remains faithful to a classical ideal.”