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LINES Ballet – Before the Blues: Prince Credell

Prince Credell in Alonzo King's Before the Blues ~ photo by Marty Sohl

In my usual weekly search for inspiration, I was watching various videos on You Tube of one of my favorite choreographers, Alonso King, Artistic Director of LINES Ballet in San Francisco. King’s work always makes me cry as it reaches into the soul through the simplest of means: honesty. There is never a false moment, never an untrue stance, never an unnecessary appeal to bravura… but rather a sincerity that comes from great intelligence and a deep spiritual connection with what it is to be human.

I happened upon an excerpt from King’s 2004 creation, Before the Blues, the solo danced by Prince Credell, an artist of supreme majesty, power, concentration, and depth. Here we see the essence of King’s signature choreographic style: expansiveness of the torso, legs leading out to forever, movement that takes its cue from the seats of our emotions, the heart and the solar plexus. With Credell, we never see the thinking, but rather his elemental connection to what is being conveyed. In the case of this solo, it is the connection to earth and the wanting for more… a reaching, a yearning, yet always the connection back to the source that Credell so ably portrays.

I turned the music off to concentrate on Credell’s body moving through space, and his body was the music. Each lift of the leg to the side (develope*) was like an endless note rising, and then the bend in the knee (attitude*), with never a drop in the thigh, like the slight introduction of a minor key, creating a new emotion. In stasis, one feels the movement underneath the surface of things, the one movement that knits to the next movement to create phrase upon phrase of meaning.

After the Blues is a 50-minute tribute to the African American experience after the civil war. King expands on the oral and musical traditions of the south during this period, using original music by Pharaoh Sanders, archival recordings from Bernice Johnson Reagon from the late 19th Century, Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso created in 1714, texts read by the actor Danny Glover, and environmental sounds. The solo, danced to Corelli, is for me, one of the highlights of the ballet, where we see the power and glory of one man’s relationship to his inner and outer world.

*Ballet terms used for these positions