The LINES family is one that is hard to stray from. Now in our 35th anniversary year, we are reminded of our past, present, and future. With that in mind, the LINES BFA program presented their showcase on November 10th and 11th, fully choreographed by past LINES dancers from different generations. The showcase featured both founding and tenured past dancers as choreographers as well as the new, with the current LINES BFA dancers on stage and also emerging artists in the audience. Young students from outreach classes at the Boro Community Center in San Rafael attended and watched their first live dance performance. Keep reading to find out more about the inspirations of choreographers Gregory Dawson, Maurya Kerr, Laura O’Malley, and Carmen Rozestraten.


Gregory Dawson
LINES company member and longest tenured dancer, working from 1987 – 2005.

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What idea are you exploring in your piece?
This piece is abstract, it’s called “Swarm”. I didn’t want the piece to follow a narrative because they’re freshman, this is the approach I normally take with all my freshman. I’m just exploring movement.

What do you hope that students get from their experience working with you?
I’m trying to get them to dive in to this work. I hope to bring out qualities in my students  like intention, commitment, and clarity. The goal is that they come out of this experience with more confidence than they came in with.

Has dancing in LINES influenced your choreography? If so in what way?
Commitment. I’m totally committed to the true intent of motion. I always instill the notion that honesty in motion is the most beautiful expression. When it’s contrived and not committed, not thought out or given reverence to, it doesn’t work.

greg.

Why did you decide to stay within the LINES community after retiring?

It’s home! I believe in the philosophy, in nurturing artists to become incredible thinkers, incredibly disciplined dancers, and in always committing to the work. There’s something about the lineage of LINES that keeps me here as well. Where else would I be?
What is the biggest change that you have witnessed having been with LINES from its formative stages, to now being on faculty?
It’s an organization, and organizations grow. Now we have education programs, and this lineage of past LINES dancers educating new artists which means that the lineage will continue. There are so many different generations that are coming up. You can see the influence of Alonzo’s philosophy on their work, and the commitment to their voices.
We’re cultivating creators, not just performing artists. This is what develops their voice. They may find that they do not want to be dancers or choreographers, but they’ll find that they’ll be damn good doctors, lawyers, or whatever they want to be. 
What has remained the same?

I think that Alonzo’s voice is his voice. He asks his artists what he’s always asked of his artists, and that’s evident in the work.


Meet Maurya Kerr

Company member from 1994-2006.

Maurya Kerr headshot

What idea are you exploring in your piece?

I’m exploring victimization, cherishment, violence, and empowerment. I looked to the artist Jenny Holzer for textual undergirding, as she works in beautiful, bleak truth. I’ve asked the senior class women for a lot of imaginative collaboration and sustained presence in uncomfortable territory, and they’ve risen unabashedly to the task.

What do you hope that students get from their experience working with you?

As a result of our time together, I hope that these young women fall in love with their rage, lust, monstrosities, full-throttled potentiality, and tenderness.

Has dancing in LINES influenced your choreography? If so, in what way?

All of my history — emotional, physical, genetic, creative, joyous, traumatic — finds its way, invited or not, into everything I do, so yes, my time with LINES is always nearby, as both stimulus and caution.

maurya dancing

Why did you decide to stay within the LINES community after retiring from the company?

I tried to leave the dance community entirely after I retired, but it didn’t work! And I’m grateful for that; staying here has forced (and allowed) me small personal revolutions that fleeing would have circumvented.

While I enjoy working with coed groups, there is a specific kind of nourishment, and knowing, from a creative space of all women.


Laura O’Malley

Company member for two seasons: 2014 / 2015 and 2015 / 2016.

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What idea are you exploring in your piece?
I’ve been playing around with ways to reflect our societal values.

What do you hope that students get from their experience working with you?

I hope the students are inspired to find their own choreographic voices, and feel challenged to explore new movement dynamics. I also enjoy motivating by creating a playful atmosphere; I’m most innovative when I feel the freedom to goof around and laugh.
Has dancing in LINES influenced your choreography? If so, in what way?
Absolutely. I’ve always enjoyed the creative process and contributing to other choreographer’s work, but was too shy to attempt choreographing myself. Alonzo pushed us to improvise, and gave me a lot of freedom to create within his work. He definitely gave me a great deal of encouragement, and I owe him a lot. I love not only creating new movement, but exploring concepts.
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What values from working with Alonzo do you try to incorporate in your own choreographic process?
I greatly admire Alonzo’s humble nature, and like him, I try not to bring my ego into the room. I like everyone to feel that their voices are valued, and give dancers freedom to interpret/create steps, while also constructing a collaborative environment.
Why did you decide to stay within the LINES community after retiring from the company?
LINES is home for me now, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’m given to give back and explore my developing choreographic voice. Also, I’m not sure if I’m entirely retired from dancing with LINES.
You retired from the company pretty recently. What is it like to now be the choreographer? How have you been finding your choreographic voice?
I don’t know if I would consider myself a choreographer yet, but am trying to allow myself the freedom to make mistakes as I discover my voice. I go back and forth between really loving what I’ve made, and feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m definitely more of a process person, and am thoroughly enjoying researching. I wish I had twice as much time in the studio!

Carmen Rozestraten

A LINES founding company member.

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What idea are you exploring in your piece?
The choreography is about the five stages of grief and the title “Penthos” refers to the Greek god of grief. The first two songs explore all of the five stages in nonlinear fashion. Only the last song is solely about hope and acceptance.
What do you hope that students get from their experience working with you?
Some of the dancers, whose strength is rhythm and “being grounded” started to develop their lyrical side and vice versa. They are not only being challenged technically but also emotionally, and the gorgeous music almost forces you to go to a deep place within oneself.
What values from working with Alonzo do you try to incorporate in your own choreographic process?
Alonzo was not afraid to experiment and workshop unusual movement and go to the very depth of the possibilities. He also knows better than anybody how to get the most out of a dancer and he always used amazing music. I hope I am learning…

Alonzo’s movement feels like home to me. Although I stopped dancing 20 years ago and Alonzo kept developing his choreography I think that you can still recognize some of the roots of the movement.

Again, LINES feels like home to me. I love going away to work with other companies and come back to LINES again.

 

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(Rozestraten on right)
What is the biggest change that you have witnessed having been with LINES from its formative stages, to now being on faculty?
The original company was there for the love of Alonzo’s choreography. At the very beginning we did not get paid and most of us had jobs at the side. I loved having the time to explore new movement and very important: I never felt like just a tool but always part of the creative process. Also, for the longest time we did not have a ballet master, and had Alonzo for every single rehearsal. It was a very exciting time to create something new, but also at times not so easy. At that time there was no school, summer program or BFA program. There was only the company, and Alonzo would teach two or sometimes three classes a day.
What has remained the same?
It is pretty amazing that so many of the original company, dancers, directors, assistants are still at LINES. Even the people who started different careers come back and apply their new found knowledge.

Come see the new works of past LINES company members performed by the LINES BFA Program!
LINES BFA Fall Showcase
Friday, November 10th at 7pm
Saturday, November 11th at 3pm
Tickets are available at the door cash only $10, or free with a Dominican ID.

Written by Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Alonzo King LINES Ballet is comprised of an internationally renowned contemporary ballet company, three education programs that serve pre-professional dancers, and a dance center that provides adult drop-in classes for all levels. The LINES Ballet mission is to nurture dynamic artistry and the development of authentic creative expression in dance, through collaboration, performance, and education.

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