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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Alonzo King Lines Ballet to perform ‘Deep River’ at DPAC

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RJ Muna
Alonzo King Lines Ballet presents ”Deep River.”


The Alonzo King Lines Ballet will bring its newest performance “Deep River” to life on stage this Wednesday and Thursday evening. The performance is part of the Presenting Series at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). 

The piece was commissioned for the San Francisco-based company’s 40th anniversary and is a collaboration between director-choreographer Alonzo King, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Lisa Fisher and MacArthur Fellow composer Jason Moran. 

DPAC associate director of Programming and Engagement Sean Martin said the performance is set to music that is a reinterpretation of African American spirituals.  

The modern ballet company has been guided by King since 1982. According to the DPAC website, King is considered a visionary choreographer and his artistic style incorporates principles rooted in the East-West continuum while adhering to the classical form of ballet. 

Martin described King’s choreography as “the science and beauty of movement and space.”

“He has this idea of Eastern philosophy and Western philosophy meeting and dance being language made into movement,” Martin continued. 

The concept of movement in space and time is reflected in the company’s style of dance, Martin said. 

Martin said that in contemporary ballet, like in contemporary art, sometimes the storyline isn’t as clear as it may be in “storybook” ballets like “Cinderella” or “Swan Lake.” Traditional ballets typically follow a definite progression of events, but “Deep River” tells the story of the toned bodies of the dancers and their movements. 

“[The ballet] isn’t going to be a literal type of story,” Martin said. “[The story] is appreciating the movement in the form and technique and the dedication it takes.” 

The abstract nature of the performance allows people to interpret the piece differently, Martin said. People will likely take away different meanings from the performance and subsequent viewings will reveal new perspectives about the piece.  

“We feel strongly that art has a way of reaching humans and understanding and truth and beauty in a way that language just can’t,” Martin said. 

In addition to the two 65-minute performances, dancers from the company will be involved with community outreach events while they are in South Bend. The company is teaching a master class for students at Clay High School and at two local dance studios. 

By visiting local schools and dance studios, the company hopes to inspire young dancers and serve as a role model for dancers interested in pursuing a professional dance career. 

Martin said the outreach component is important because the goal of these events is not only to bring great art to campus and the Notre Dame community, but also to engage the community beyond the performance.

There are only a few tickets remaining for the performances Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Decio Theater. The tickets are $10 for Notre Dame students and can be purchased on the DPAC website.