Artscapes: Dancing Across the Natural World at Laguna Dance Festival

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dance LINES 7  - Biophony, Photo by Quinn B Wharton“Biophony” describes the myriad sounds made by animals, from roaring lions to humming bees, to a sea anemone munching or a river otter pining for its lost mate.

Introduced by musician, composer, ecologist and author Bernie Krause, he also coined “anthrophony,” defined as human noise, and “geophony,” non-animal sounds of nature.

Over a lifetime, Krause collected the sounds of ecosystems from every continent and their oceans.

Now the Alonzo King Lines Ballet will dance to those native rhythms as part of the upcoming Laguna Dance Festival. The San Francisco-based company will perform “Biophony,” a collaborative work based on the nature soundscapes of Krause, symphonic music composed by British composer Richard Blackford and choreography by King on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Laguna Playhouse.

Lines will also perform “Concert for Two Violins,” choreographed to Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, and “Men’s Quintet” to Edgar Meyer’s violin concerto, “Movement II.”

Adding to the excitement of the Sept. 3 – 13 festival is the West Coast premiere of the Malpaso Dance Company, whichdance Malpaso 6 - Photo by David Garten performs at the playhouse on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 10 and 11.

The Havana-based company founded in 2012 by Dailedys Carrazana and Fernando Saéz has performed previously on the East Coast, said Festival executive director Joy Dittberner.

“With both flags just having gone up again in Cuba and in the U.S., we are so excited. The timing could not have been better,” she said.

Malpaso will present “Despedida/Farewell” by Osnel Delgado set to music by Arturo O’Farrill and a new work, “Under Fire,” choreographed by Trey McIntyre of the Trey McIntyre Project. Also on the program is Ronald K. Brown’s “Why You Follow.”

The new Lines work has its genesis in an orchestral one composed by Krause and Blackford titled “The Great Animal Orchestra: Symphony for Orchestra and Wild Soundscapes.”

“Soundscapes are divided into geophony, natural sounds of wild habitats, biophony, all organisms that exist in ecosystems, and anthropony, human sounds such as music and language, but also the noise that surrounds us daily,” explained Krause in “Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places,” a book chronicling his research into the music of nature. Soundtracks by Krause, 75, figure in 135 feature films and sound backgrounds for aquariums, zoos and museums.

The symphony made its debut at the 2014 Cheltenham Music Festival in England performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Shortly after his return to the U.S., Lines Ballet contacted Krause about collaborating on a ballet. “I spent time with Alonzo and found synergy between us. After hearing a large number of soundscapes, he selected sounds from Kenya, Borneo, Sumatra, the Amazon and Alaska and sounds from the ocean. There will also be a short segment based on killer bees,” he said, adding that some parts of the ballet will be danced without music. A few elements of the 54-minute composition have been scored to incorporate clarinet, flute, harp and percussion.

In an e-mail, King wrote: “Bernie has captured sounds from locations where those sounds don’t exist anymore. He has spent a lifetime patiently gathering those natural orchestras. It was a thrill for the dancers and myself to move, play and exist in those aural treasures.”

Dittberner, the dance festival’s first appointed executive director, expressed excitement at the growth of this year’s dance festival, in its 11th season this year. “We are in a good place; we have proven ourselves to the community,” she said, citing the Malpaso’s premiere as a highlight, along with the Lines performance.

Growth includes year-round master classes, two free performances this summer on the Festival of Arts’ grounds, a first-time salon with Hope Boykin of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and free performances during next week’s Artwalk on Thursday, Sept. 3, at the Laguna Art Museum and Salt Fine Art, 1492 S. Coast Highway.

With growth come changes. Dancers will no longer stay as guests at the homes of board members, but be billeted at the Hotel Laguna, a festival sponsor.

Krause called the Line performance of “Biophony” a major breakthrough in its presentation. “Alonzo works like a film director, demanding cutting edge work from dancers, designers and musicians. No one dances like this in the Western world, but the presentation will also reach out to kids and young viewers whose curiosity is still wide open,” he said.

For more information on Laguna Dance Festival, visit

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