From the Archives: “Migration” at Stern Grove

San Francisco’s Stern Grove Festival is celebrating its 83rd season with a 9-week series of concert videos from the archives, highlighting some of the best performances over the years. “Episode 9” aired this past weekend and featured an excerpt from LINES Ballet’s 2008 festival appearance as well as archival footage from the San Francisco Symphony (2012) and Kronos Quartet (2013).

This 2008 performance at the Grove’s beautiful outdoor amphitheater was a memorable one – for Ilaria Guerra and Jeffrey van Sciver, it was their first experience watching the Company perform! At the time, both were students in the LINES Ballet Summer Program. Both went on to graduate from LINES Ballet’s BFA Program and later joined the Company.

(Excerpt from Migration begins around 5:11)

Migration: The hierarchical migration of birds and mammals (2006)

Choreography: Alonzo King
Music: Miguel Frasconi, Leslie Stuck
Costumes: Colleen Quen, Robert Rosenwasser
Dancers: Brett Conway, David Harvey, Ashley Jackson, Laurel Keen, Caroline Rocher, Corey Scott-Gilbert, Meredith Webster, Keelan Whitmore, Ricardo Zayas

A breath stirs in the body; a tiny crack appears in the shell; the dance begins with the moment of emergence. This piece explores the awakening of complex bodies, and the beauty of their constant evolution into new forms. A fossil is made because time, writing on bodies, turns them into stone. Yet the stone is made from the same substance as the eggshell, the snail’s shell, and the seashell.

Alonzo King evokes the feeling of home that is born into us, the one that guides us wordlessly back to our wondrous origins. For an instant, we remember that moment when the eggshell trembles and cracks, or when the intricate pattern of a chambered nautilus has finally been engraved entirely in stone, and disappears. There is a feeling that the dancers’ exquisite lines are part of a beauty that we know by heart, if we could only let ourselves remember.

Brett Conway and Meredith Webster

When the music laps at the dancers’ limbs, they fold into themselves, as if encased in shells that have been etched by salt and time. As the rhythms of heartbeat and tides pulse through them, they arise. The dancers curve into the space around their bodies, pulling it into new configurations, grappling with each other between tension and trust. There are moments of soaring into vast spaces, of wheeling and diving with a complete and precise freedom. There are also infinite ways to find a sense of home, and to come back to the beginning again; and so, each dancer alights with unique grace and an extraordinary sense of presence.

Alonzo King’s choreography is a call to the spirit, and also an intimate form of listening for the spirit’s response.

Migration was commissioned by the Movimentos Arts Festival in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Stern Grove Festival interview:

CLICK HERE to watch Alonzo’s pre-show interview from the Company’s festival appearance at Stern Grove Festival on July 20, 2008.

For more about Stern Grove Festival’s “Best of the Fest” online series, visit

Photo: courtesy of Stern Grove Festival