Dust and Light, Scheherazade from Lines Ballet

Alonzo King's Lines Ballet have a huge hit on their hand with this pairing which has proven almost impossible to get a ticket for, but we prevailed and ended up with some decent tickets for tonight's performance. Hint: show up at 6 and be willing to buy high-priced seats from the woman manning the Donor/VIP table. After securing three tickets, Chad and I repaired to Samovar for tea and food whilst waiting for Penelope to take her leave from a political fundraiser. The view and ambiance were splendid, as was the tea and food, but I had to wonder about tea that costs the equivalent of a cocktail from a hotel bar. But I would go back.

The first part of the show was Dust and Light from 2008. The program states the stage is "filled with a dozen moons- or perhaps a dozen suns... immersing the audience in a luminous grace." At times yes, but while Meredith Webster and Keelan Whitmore danced and another dancer crawled across the stage in pitiable, crippled movements defying what the human body seemed capable of, my mind was reminded of the horror film "Martyrs" which believe me is that last thing one wants to associate with ballet and dance. Yet once lodged in my brain, the connection stuck, releasing itself only to return again.

Ricardo Zayas and Michael Montgomery paired to portray the shifting dynamics and support of couples in my favorite section of the twelve part piece, proving that love can be shown in many guises. Well done guys. Later, a menage a trios gave a devastating account of betrayal and its aftermath which was almost heartbreaking to watch. It's a fabulous work that was only undermined for me by my personal hatred of the sound of the harpsichord, which was inescapable in the Corelli-based score. Chad however, being a fan of the Baroque and attending his first balletic performance, was ensnared. All of the dancers were fantastic, moving their incredibly fit and well-showcased figures in ways I've never witnessed.

 After the intermission came what was for many the main draw, Scheherazade, featuring Rimsky-Korsakov's four movment scorere-imagined and performed mostly live by Zakir Hussain. Musically this was fantastic. Conceptually it didn't work that well for me, but that may be due to the soft-porn movie in my own mind this music creates which has proven remarkably durable over the past 20 years. Meredith Webster and Corey Scott-Gilbert had a fascinating pas de deux lasting maybe ten minutes as Scheherazade told the Sultan 1001 tales, exhausting herself, while other dancers enacted them. Then it all came to a rather abrupt end which left me thinking "that's it? But where's the climax?"

I guess that was it, because as Penelope pointed out, the dancers onstage had just worked their asses off for an hour and a half and had only grown larger and stronger with each passing movement and minute- it was a breathtaking display of physical virtuosity, even if in my own mind it left me wanting one more story with a less ambiguous, if not necessarily happy, ending.

There are three more performances, all sold out, but where there's a will there's a way.