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August Wilson Center - Front & Center » “Alonzo King” - “Amplifying African American Voices”

Posts Tagged ‘“Alonzo King”’

Great Connections

Posted in General, Guest Posts, Review on January 19th, 2010 by Shaunda – Be the first to comment
A big welcome to one of our new guest bloggers, Charlene Foggie Barnett, who we’ve featured in past articles for her participation in the August Wilson Center’s production of The Women of the Hill. Charlene, an enthusiastic and dedicated arts supporter, attended Alonzo King LINES Ballet when they performed in front of a packed house on both January 15 & 16. The following is her perspective of the evening.

I’m always fascinated about how situations are connected in the experiences of living. For the past decade, I’ve given my daughter–an 18-year-old dancer–a yearly wall calendar of ballet, modern or contemporary dancers. For the past several years, I’ve selected a calendar

Corey Scott-Gilbert

Corey Scott-Gilbert

whose monthly images are static shots, of the formidable dancers in the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Company. As we entered the August Wilson Center on Saturday evening, my daughter said to me, “you do know that this is the company whose calendars you’ve been giving me.”  I replied, “I hadn’t realized that, but I felt so compelled to see this show when I saw it advertised on the Center’s Web site.”

And it was a real treat. The performance opened with the piece Signs and Wonders, as an undulating cast of strong male dancers took the stage by force. The traditional African music appropriately accompanied the piece in intricate, pulsating rhythms. This was an impressive introduction to the company’s dynamic mentoring (by Alonzo King), coupled with superb technique.

Meredith Webster

Meredith Webster

The standouts for me were a very tall young man, whose limbs seemingly stretched across the expanse of the stage, and a shorter, stockier male dancer, who alternated between displays of strength and graceful prowess. As the enticing ladies in the company later joined them en pointe, each one demonstrated their elegantly woven fortitude. The women bore the ballet in twists and contortions that are not often

performed with such ease and grace. It looked effortless, and yet, I knew “effort” was a major point of the piece.  After a short intermission, the company performed “Refraction.” This piece, albeit very different from the first, was more melodic and swayed me into a comfortable trance, yet it’s complexities, such as the intricate daisy chain near the conclusion, persistently enticed the audience. Lighting played a unique part, and the music, by Jason Moran, was so enjoyable that I searched for it in iTunes. The relational stance between dancers, seemed to individually “pop,” while still being veiled by their unending cohesion, as a whole.

As anticipated, the event was spectacular, and my daughter and her friends enjoyed every minute of it. As usual, the audience included many of those connected to dance in Pittsburgh - Dance Council

Artist Director/Founder Alonzo King

Artist Director/Founder Alonzo King

members, teachers and dancers from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Creative And Performing Arts High School and Dance Alloy to name a few. But the theater was filled to capacity, with a variety of enthusiastic patrons of the arts. I sat in the very last row of the balcony, behind a large group of youngsters, ranging from ages 7 to 12, whose interest never wavered from what they observed on stage. That’s probably because, as I can attest (having been seated all over the theater), there is not a bad seat in the August Wilson Center house.

Immediately following the performance, several of the dancers treated audience members who chose to stay, with a question and answer “Artist Talk” session. Nature had been calling me, so I rushed off to the facilities, but those who attended told me it was a great opportunity to get to know more about Alonzo King’s vision and the company members. Afterward, as I chatted with friends in the lobby, the tallest male

Alonzo King and Laurel Keen

Alonzo King and Laurel Keen

dancer from LINES was leaving the theater. As fate would have it, a (young male) dancer friend of our family, who attends CAPA and PBT, was introduced to the LINES dancer and enjoyed a moment of encouraging conversation.

You’ve got to appreciate the August Wilson Center - not just for the great shows they bring to Pittsburgh, but for the hospitable manner in which these acts are presented. Also, at the end of a performance, I never feel pressured to abruptly leave, as I often do in other theatres, but rather enjoy browsing the well-stocked gift shop, and sharing a brief moment of conversation with friends. Thanks once again, AWC, for a lovely evening of entertainment and connection!

- August Wilson Center Patron, Charlene Foggie Barnett

OTHER COVERAGE:

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh City Paper
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (article 2)
CrossCurrents
CrossCurrents (article 2)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

EDITOR’S NOTE: Coming up next– February 6, 8 pmDaniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), a classically trained composer, performer, violinist and band-leader noted for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into an energetic and experiential sonic form.

Explore the Unknown in 2010…You Just Might Like It!

Posted in Events, General on January 5th, 2010 by Shaunda – 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

Many of you are returning back to work after a week or two of family fun, festive feasting or just plain old much-needed solitude.

Whatever the case may be, it’s 2010–a new year, for a better version of you. Well, statistics show that many people tend to fade off of their new year’s resolutions within the first 3 months of the new year, never reaching their goals. I know someone who has denounced the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” and instead has vowed to make “lifestyle adjustments.” How refreshing.

What is your lifestyle adjustment? Okay–beyond the typical “exercise more” and “stop smoking/cursing/etc.”–what is your goal?

I overheard an interesting conversation between two middle-aged women. One woman pointed at an advertisement for an event going on in the Pittsburgh Cultural District, and encouraged her friend to come along. The friend, scrunched her face and said “I’ll pass, thanks,” citing the fact that she had never heard of the performer and never had been to that type of event before. Clearly it wasn’t her style. Out of her comfort zone. Foreign.

LINES Ballet @ August Wilson Center Jan. 15-16

LINES Ballet @ August Wilson Center Jan. 15-16

As the conversation progressed, the first woman expressed how she had made a promise to her family that in the New Year they would go to more cultural events in the city. To myself, I thought, what a great “lifestyle adjustment.” After some coaxing, the second woman agreed to go.

As we begin the second half of our Inaugural Season in the brand new August Wilson Center, I encourage you all to explore the unknown. In examining the Center’s impressive and aggressive schedule of events, I realize there may be more unfamiliar than familiar names on the lineup. Also, for many performers, Pittsburgh may be unfamiliar to them. Admittedly, a few performers are indeed alien to me, a self-proclaimed cultural enthusiast.  However, I consider it a good thing, for I find it challenges me to traverse deeper into the plush rainforest we call arts and culture.

Daniel Bernard Roumain @ the August Wilson Center Feb. 6

Daniel Bernard Roumain @ the August Wilson Center Feb. 6

In about two weeks, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will grace the August Wilson Center stage. They are performing a piece, Signs and Wonders, celebrated by The New York Times as a work that “remains unpredictable and inventive, right up to its dazzling, fast-moving finale.” The piece, which was originally commissioned by Dance Theatre of Harlem, has toured around the world to critical acclaim and will be at the August Wilson Center January 15-16.

Then during Black History Month, the Center is presenting Daniel Bernard Roumain–a classically trained composer, performer, violinist, and band-leader noted for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into an energetic and experiential sonic form. My musical thirst (especially) is very comprehensive, and since DBR was foreign to my ipod, I decided on a whim to purchase his latest project, etudes4violin&electronix. I am actually listening to it now for the first time, and have yet to be disappointed and find myself looking forward to his February 6th performance at the Center.

Here are a few more events the Center is presenting in 2010:

Tribute to Phyllis Hyman - Feb. 19

Feb. 19

  • Habib Koite - An internationally-known Malian musician who sings and plays the guitar, integrating jazz, blues, flamenco, samba and diverse sounds from his native land.  Koite was donned “Mali’s biggest pop star” by Rolling Stone. In the same article, country/blues-star Bonnie Raitt compared Koite to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. He will be at the Center March 13.

    May 21

    May 21

  • Rennie Harris Puremovement - If you can appreciate dance and pure athleticism seeing this performance will definitely be worth your time. Known as the international hip-hop ambassadors, this Philly-based dance company strives to provide audiences with a sincere view of the essence and spirit of hip-hop, rather than the commercially exploited stereotypes most often presented by the media. Rennie Harris Puremovement will be at the Center May 21.

To see a complete list of all of the August Wilson Center’s upcoming events, click here!

Here’s to exploring the unknown in 2010–HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CHEERS!