ALONZO KING LINES BALLET – Spectacular Gala Opening for “Scheherazade”

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

SCHEHERAZADE, now at the Novellus Theatre in Yerba Buena Center, captures the beauty and complexity of a vibrant, hard-driving, sometimes erotic and always romantic ancient tale. Choreographed by Alonzo King, original music by Zakir Hussain and a sweet infusion of Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade was the most perfect choice for the Gala Opening of Alonzo King Lines Ballet.

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Opening Night Gala Celebration Photos, S.M.

Alonzo King Lines Ballet enjoys international recognition. The fans and patrons at Opening Night already know the company enjoys the attention of the international community of dance. And they’re flying-in to experience it. Its dancers have received the Princess Grace Award. In 2008 Alonzo King received the Mayor’s Artist Award. With Scherezade, Lines places its star high and bright over San Francisco. It’s true. Lines is the long-standing, very local and secret treasure that appears to be The City’s latest discovery.

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DENISE BRADLEY TYSON – Member, Board of Trustees

The spectacular reception and post-performance dinner was catered by Spruce in collaboration with Fork & Spoon Productions. Christie’s Marc B. Porter kept the hearts pounding and the paddles flying during an incredibly successful and before-dessert auction. Apparently, the very alluring energy of Scheherazade had followed us into the room. And the room was filled with beauty. I spoke with lovely Board of Trustees Member Denise Bradley Tyson. We agree that Lines must be experienced to be believed. And once you’re there, you’ll want to go back. I asked her about her responsibilities.

Seán: You are on the Board of Trustees for Alonzo King Lines Ballet. Tell me about your work with the Company.

Denise: I really see my job as being an advocate and promoter of Lines. I truly think that Lines is one of San Francisco’s undiscovered or under-appreciated treasures. Alonzo was recognized with the Mayor’s Artist Award. Lines performs to sell-out crowds internationally. Last year the Company traveled 29 cities and six countries and performed in front of almost 100,000 people internationally. So we want to get San Francisco behind them. It’s not only about the dance. Alonzo sees dance as being transformative. You see the way the dancers move and they’re given freedom to interpret the work on stage. But he is also committed to making dance accessible to a broader audience. A lot of people don’t know the Alonzo King Lines Ballet has a dance center that’s right off of 7th and Market. Since they opened in 1989 they’ve served over a million people in the Bay Area – of all ages, of all socio-economic groups. Alonzo sees the benefits of dance being not only physical, but also the spiritual and the mental impact it can have on an individual in terms of their self-esteem, their outlook. The Company also does community outreach. They teach classes to the Kinder One Boys and Girls Club, the Presidio Middle School. They travel a lot, but when they are here they are very much a part of the community. There is the Lines Ballet Summer Program. Last year, about 31% of the students were given scholarships to attend the program. That’s one of the reasons a night such as tonight is so important. It gives us the opportunity to go to the community to try to get additional funding, because the more money we get in – the more programming and support we can do. For me – I think San Francisco and the Bay Area needs to embrace Alonzo King Lines Ballet in the same way that New York embraces the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre company. We have our own right here.

Seán: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Denise: With all non-profits the biggest challenge, as you know, is always the fundraising. You’re insuring that you have enough to fund what you do. We’re looking for money to fund new works, to provide scholarships, to recruit more dancers. We’d like to ensure – and you’ve seen the dancers we have – that we can provide our dancers with a competitive salary in terms of retention.

Seán: They have to be able to take care of themselves so they can dance for you.

Denise: Unfortunately, with the world we live in, all these things require funding. Hopefully, your readers will be moved to come out and see this performance. For us, that’s always the best starting point. I think that Lines is one of those ballet companies that you have to experience. It’s hard to be impassioned and enthusiastic until you’ve seen it. For as much as can be said about the athleticism, the physicality of the dance, the movement – you really have to experience it to understand how Lines is different, to see its unique footprint.

SCHEHERAZADE continues through this Sunday, October 24th. The ballet is paired with DUST AND LIGHT, choreographed by King in 2008, with music by Francois Poulenc and Arcangelo Corelli.
Click here for ticket information: ALONZO KING LINES BALLET

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ALONZO KING & SEÁN MARTINFIELD
DENISE BRADLEY TYSON & Lines Dancer RICARDO ZAYAS

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STEPHEN BRADY, Board Member and Honorary Co-Chair

Click on the photo to watch my YouTube interview
with Lines massage therapist:

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JESSE GARCIA

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CAROL YOUNG and Lines Dancer, KEELAN WHITMORE

A most delightful companion at our table, Carol Young rivaled the glamour of Princess Scheherazde in her dazzling gown by Oscar de la Renta. “I’m just a dance lover,” she said, “and an admirer of Alonzo King as a fabulous choreographer with a great group of dancers.”
“Are you a subscriber?”
“This is my first year actually.”
“What hooked you into it?”
Her response reflected the themes and hopes of the evening. “Just seeing them once.”

View the closing remarks by Artistic Director and Choreographer of Scherezade, Alonzo King:

“In our educational system in Dance,” says Alonzo King, “in elementary schools, in universities, there presently is a huge amount of identity theft – where people are not singing their own song. They’re cloning. And they want to cross the bar to get the degree and no critical thought has occurred. That’s scary. That’s one of the goals of Lines – that people will find their own voice, even though the whole world says, “You’re wrong”, and continue with that voice, not worrying about reward, but going with their own true intuition. I don’t hear much about that anymore. And it’s huge. So, that’s one part of our directive – that that inner voice which is unique, unlike anyone else in the world, has to be discovered. You have to get a sense and a smell of who you are before you close your eyes to the world. Too often we get heavily rewarded for being a good knock-off – which is a suicide of sorts. So, that “Knowing thyself” – there’s two Selfs. My mother used to say, “Now, honey, be yourself. But, your sweet self.” We have the meek, whining mortal self and then we have the heroic self. Art asks for the Heroic Self.”

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.


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