Babatunji in Biophony.
Photo by Quinn B. Wharton.
Featuring a world premiere set to music of the Sephardic tradition and King's celebrated 1998 work, Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner?, with music by tabla master Zakir Hussain
Emerging from a vivid and tangled intercultural history that spans continents, centuries, languages, and faiths, Sephardic music is the living testimony of the encounter between Judaism and the communities where the Sephardic diaspora settled. For its 2011 Fall Season choreographer Alonzo King and the LINES Ballet dancers explore this rich tradition of blended histories and beautiful music in the world premiere of a new ballet. Among the musical pieces in King's new ballet are songs from Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Yemen, including children’s songs and religious songs.
Also on the program is King’s celebrated 1998 work, Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner? King's first collaboration with the world-renowned tabla master Zakir Hussain. Featuring a commissioned score by Hussain, Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner? was celebrated by the New York Times for its "virtuosity," "vivid" choreography, and "imaginative duets." King and Hussain have since gone on to collaborate on many more ballets, most recently Scheherazade, which premiered in San Francisco last fall.
A dancer presses his body into the outline of a cone of light; the halo lifts upwards, a shofar sounds its lament, and Resin begins. As the piece moves from intimate duets to the flashing, barely visible footwork of a quartet of dancers, Alonzo King explores the possibilities of the vast and diverse field of Sephardic music. In this “Diaspora within the Diaspora,” as curator and ethnomusicologist Francesco Spagnolo writes, “the music of the Sephardic Jews has come into contact with music from Europe, including Italy and the Balkans, and especially with the Arabic and Turkish musical worlds.” Rare archival field recordings are interwoven with Judeo-Spanish songs, and the stage is transformed into a shimmering and timeless landscape, as tiny hardened tears cascade downwards in streams of light.