The Wisdom of King

I have for a long time loved Alonzo Kings’ movement.

About eight years ago I was working on a project in San Francisco we rehearsed in the San Francisco Dance Center that houses Lines Ballet company. As we were working with a couple of his dancers, one of whom was a green and adorable Brett Conway, I got to inquiring about what it was like to work with King. With no exaggeration every dancer in his company I encountered told me that it was the greatest opportunity they had experienced, it was hard and demanding but they all seemed challenged, fulfilled and creatively happy. Now I know about the PR spiel that dancers are taught to spout when asked an honest (but loaded) and possibly political question. I have a BS detector and I have to say these dancers seemed to be telling the truth- they also said it would be nice to have more money- and (at the time) more work, but they were happy.

I had not yet met Mr. King.

That happened a year or so later when I was Venice performing and the Dance Biennale working with Karole Armitage, LINES was also there to perform. I went to their performance was blown away. After the show I finally met King, we were instantly taken with one another and he invited me to the post show dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant he asked me to sit beside him “We are not finished” he stated. We laughed and talked into the wee hours. Such that my fellow dancers left me at the restaurant basking in the glow of the King and when I looked up it was 2 am and I was unclear as to where I was or how to get back to my apartment. All I knew was to follow the signs that said Ospetale. Alonzo (as I felt at this point comfortable enough to call him) offered to see me home safely.

We ended up wandering the alley like streets of Venice on a treasure hunt for signs that read “Hospital” laughing at ourselves all the way. I am convinced that we would still be lost had it not been for a drunken Italian man who insisted upon helping us. The New Yorker in me did not trust him and the whole time I had to keep his hands at bay- this amused the King a great deal. Subsequent to that evening I have had the opportunity to deepen my relationship with him through the discussion of art and choreography. At one point I told him I wanted to come and live with him to get inside his head his reply “Come on”. When he created the BFA Program with Dominican University I did not hesitate to recommend it to my graduating students, mainly because I trusted the intention and the philosophy that infuses his being, and is passed on to his dancers, hence his teachers and his programs.

Here is a video which illustrates what I fell in love with that night in Venice. I wish the dance world had more Alonzo Kings, then we as dancers would be healthier artists emotionally and spiritually inside and out.

LINES Ballet from LINES Ballet on Vimeo.

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