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From the first grunts of prehistoric man through the current grunts of Corporate America, human beings struggle to understand each other. As the world grows increasingly divided, sometimes finding common ground between disparate cultures and beliefs seems impossible.
One thing that crosses all borders, all cultures and all social classes – is art. Whether it be music, dance, or any other form of creative expression, every culture has some form of expression.
Living in San Francisco one gets a bit spoiled. The options for art consumption, while not as pervasive as say New York City or London, are certainly impressive. For years I’ve attended the San Francisco Symphony, caught a couple of performances of San Francisco Opera and belong to pretty much every museum in town.
But I have to be honest. When it comes to the arts, dance – especially ballet – falls pretty low on my list. As a matter-of-fact, when my sister generously offered to buy me season tickets to the San Francisco Ballet as a birthday present several years ago, I punctuated my “no thank you” with an explosive snort of laughter.
So when my friend Maureen Blanc emailed and asked if I would be willing to help out with some activities for Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, it was more about the opportunity to see an old friend and help her out than it was any real love for ballet that I agreed.
One rainy San Francisco evening, Maureen gathered a small group at her home to talk about the LINES’ ballet 25th anniversary gala taking place in November 2007. During the gathering I had a chance to meet Alonzo King – and I was thoroughly charmed.
My relative distaste for ballet in general notwithstanding, I found myself riveted as he explained the history of his troupe and talked about where things would be going in the coming year. When he invited me to come see a rehearsal for the company’s current performance – I jumped at the chance.
Several days later, I headed for their studio. Of course the first thing I did was email my sister and tell her where I was going. To which I received an email that she wrote after picking herself up off the floor where she had fallen in hysterics upon hearing of my afternoon plans.
I’ll truncate the story here.
In short – I’m now hooked.
The performance, a collaboration with the Shaolin monks, was mesmerizing – and it was still in very rough form when I saw it.
Alonzo very kindly agreed to spend some time with me soon thereafter so that I could get a better understanding of his philosophy and get the background on how this remarkable piece came into being.
And that’s what you’ll hear in this podcast.