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Alonzo King

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Alonzo King teaching class, 1980sAbout

Alonzo King is among the most influential and innovative contemporary ballet choreographers. He has rethought ballet as a 21st century art in an intensely personal way by melding the restraint and clarity of ballet with the dynamism and experimentation of modern dance. In close to two hundred works—often creating two or three per year—King has dazzled and mesmerized audiences in this country and abroad. His Alonzo King LINES Ballet is also one of very few ballet companies that follows the modern dance practice of exclusively performing the works of its founding artistic director. Born in Albany, Georgia, in 1952, King moved to California with his family, and has been based in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977. He has long been revered as a challenging and inspiring teacher, and his organization now offers both pre-professional training and courses for the general public, as well as the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University in Marin County, established in 2006. He has collaborated with many non-Western musicians and dancers, and LINES Ballet has toured internationally since the early 1980s. King’s groundbreaking ballets, particularly notable for their re-thinking of ballet’s traditional gender roles, have entered the repertories of companies around the country and the world.

Pictured above: Alonzo King teaching a studio class, 1980s. Since his arrival in San Francisco in 1977, King has been in demand as a teacher, known for pushing dancers to go beyond technique and find the intention behind movement. (Photograph courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet)

Babatunji, dancer with LINES Ballet

Pictured right: Jeffrey Van Sciver, a dancer with Alonzo King LINES Ballet who trained with the company's BFA program at Dominican University of California. Rita Felciano writes that in King’s repertoire, “you can’t miss the lines, though often broken and tangled; the all-important balances, though often off-center and precarious; and persistent attempts to defy gravity while also giving into it.” (Photograph by RJ Muna, courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet)

Michael Montgomery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured left: Michael Montgomery, a dancer with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. King has said: "Moving is thought in action. So when you see great movers, you're actually seeing great thinkers." (Photograph by RJ Muna, courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet)

Keen and Conway in "Migration" choreographed by King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured right: Laurel Keen and Brett Conway perform Migration in 2007. LINES Ballet dancers have been celebrated for their virtuosic technique, strength and flexibility; both men and women combine power with lyricism. (Photograph by Marty Sohl, courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet) 


FURTHER RESEARCH

Essay by Rita Felciano -- Selected Resources


 

Handel Pas (Laurel Keen and John Michael Schert) from LINES Ballet on Vimeo.

Choreography: Alonzo King

Music: George Frideric Handel

Dancers: Laurel Keen and John Michael Schert

Premiere year: 2005

Courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Video: Rita Felciano writes that in King’s choreography, the pas de deux, “the center piece of classical ballet, rarely has romantic overtones but becomes a sometimes fierce give-and-take between opposing yet complementary forces that hold each other in precarious balance.”

Refraction (excerpts) from LINES Ballet on Vimeo.

Choreography: Alonzo King

Music: Jason Moran

Dancers: The company

Costume and Scenic design: Robert Rosenwasser

Premiere year: 2009

Courtesy of Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Video: Alonzo King has used a wide variety of music in his work, ranging from classical to world music, often collaborating with contemporary composers. For Refraction, King worked with innovative jazz composer Jason Moran, who had never written music for dance before, and who described his first experience watching LINES Ballet dancers as “a breakthrough—I wasn’t ready for what I witnessed.”