The Alonzo King LINES Ballet company will perform May 3,...

The Alonzo King LINES Ballet company will perform May 3, 2015, at Staller Center, Stony Brook University. Credit: The Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Call it the last dance. Sunday's presentation of Alonzo King LINES Ballet is the final performance by a major touring company at one of Long Island's leading arts centers in the 2014-15 season.

One presenter worries about the sustainability of dance as a performing arts attraction on Long Island, while another remains confident about its viability.

"Dance is struggling," says Alan Inkles, director of Stony Brook University's Staller Center.

"It's been a great year for dance at Tilles," says Elliott Sroka, director of LIU Post's Tilles Center.

Which is it?

"Dance, like many classical art forms, is not as popular as it once was," Sroka acknowledges. But this season, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater drew 6,000 for four Tilles shows. (Tilles' concert-hall capacity is 2,000, but it blocks off 400 seats for dance due to sightline issues.)

"We always give performers a full house," Inkles says -- up to 1,100 in Staller's main-stage hall. "But sometimes we do so by inviting students for free." He says he may do that for the Alonzo King showl.


Sunday's program ranges from a ballet set to Bach's Concerto for Two Violins to "Writing Ground," a 2010 commission set to poetry by Colum McCann -- both choreographed by King. "The terms LINES," King says of his company's name, "alludes to all that is visible in the universe. There's nothing that is formed without line," he says, speaking with mathematical precision. "Writing Ground," he says, "explores the microcosm and macrocosm that is the human being."

Thought provoking, indeed. "But when young people today think of dance, they expect what they see on TV," Inkles says. "With pure dance -- ballet or modern -- you don't have all those throws and acrobatics. The pure-dance generation," he adds, "may be living at Jefferson Ferry," a retirement community near Stony Brook.

Sroka says the TV-influenced "Dancing Pros" was the poorest dance draw of Tilles' season.

Looking ahead to the 2016-17 season, Inkles booked Royal Winnipeg Ballet for the Saturday before Halloween. "They suggested 'Swan Lake,' " Inkles says. He countered with "Dracula."

"Dracula" won out.


Sroka says he's looking forward to the return to Tilles next season of the Dance Theater of Harlem. (DTH returned from finanical-hardship hiatus in 2011.) Tilles Center enjoys an advantage over other Long Island presenters: It's supported by a dance endowment underwritten by Eric Krasnoff, former Pall CEO, and his wife, Sandy -- this in addition to sponsors. Staller has sponsors but no endowment.

King, founder of his San Francisco-based troupe, says recent setbacks in American dance -- Cedar Lakes Contemporary Ballet folded in March; Paul Taylor sold five Rauschenberg artworks to support his company's foundation -- are collateral damage resulting from cutbacks in arts education. "The dearth of artistic knowledge today," he says, "is because it's been extracted from public schools."

WHAT Alonzo King LINES Ballet

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. May 3, Staller Center Main Stage, Stony Brook University

TICKETS $42; 631-632-2787,