Alonzo King

Alonzo King

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Alonzo King is an American dancer and choreographer working in San Francisco, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. He is known for founding a contemporary ballet
Contemporary ballet
Contemporary ballet is a form of dance which incorporates elements of both classical ballet and modern dance. It takes its technique and use of pointework from classical ballet, although it permits a greater range of movement that may not adhere to the strict body lines set forth by schools of...

 company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, in 1982.
Alonzo King began his ballet training in Santa Barbara, California with June Lane and moved to New York City to continue his artistic development. He trained at the Harkness School of Ballet and the Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance...

 dance school. While attending the American Ballet Theatre School on full scholarship, he studied with Patricia Wilde and Leon Danelian; he was also on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet
School of American Ballet
The School of American Ballet is one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world and is the associate school of the New York City Ballet, a leading international ballet company based at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The school trains students from the...

 where he trained with Stanley Williams
Stanley Williams
Stanley Tookie Williams III was the co-founder of the Crips, a notorious American street gang which had its roots in South Central Los Angeles in 1969. In 1979 he was convicted of four murders committed in the course of robberies, sentenced to death, and eventually executed...

 and Richard Rapp. In addition he also studied dance at the California Institute of the Arts
California Institute of the Arts
The California Institute of the Arts, commonly referred to as CalArts, is located in Valencia, in Los Angeles County, California. It was incorporated in 1961 as the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States created specifically for students of both the visual and the...

. In New York, King performed with the Harkness Youth Company, apprenticed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem is a ballet company and school of the allied arts founded in Harlem, New York City, USA in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook...

, Donald McKayle
Donald McKayle
Donald McKayle is an African American modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and writer best known for creating socially conscious concert works during the 1950s and 60s that focus on expressing the human condition and more specifically, the black experience in America...

, Lucas Hoving
Lucas Hoving
Lucas Hoving was a modern dancer, choreographer and teacher most famous for the roles he created as an original member of the José Limón Dance Company. Hoving performed opposite Limón in several of the company's best known works, including "The Moor's Pavane" , "The Traitor" , and "Emporer Jones"...

, and a number of European companies. After returning from New York, he danced with Bella Lewitzky
Bella Lewitzky
Bella Lewitzky was a modern dance choreographer and noted teacher....

 in Los Angeles before moving to San Francisco.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet


In 1982, Mr. King founded Alonzo King LINES Ballet, which has developed into an international touring company. The company is composed of dancers trained in classical ballet
Classical ballet
Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles, it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet...

 technique. The choreography uses recognizable ballet steps, and the women sometimes dance en pointe, but the dances do not conform strictly either to the principles of modern dance
Modern dance
Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.-Intro:...

  or to those of classical ballet
Classical ballet
Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles, it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet...

. The company is known for its global perspective on dance, and critics often comment on the "new language" or "re-invention of form" evinced by King's choreography. A number of the company's dancers have received the Princess Grace Award, which honors extraordinarily talented young performing artists.

Choreography


King frequently collaborates with artists not regularly associated with classical ballet
Classical ballet
Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles, it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet...

. For instance, The People of the Forest was a collaboration with the Aka
Aka (tribe)
The Aka, also known as Hrusso, are found in the Thrizino , Bhalukpong , Buragaon, Jamiri, Palizi, Khuppi area in West Kameng of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family....

 Pygmies (2001); The Moroccan Project involved a group of musicians from North Africa; (Fall 2005), Sky Clad was performed with Hindustani vocalist Rita Sahai (Fall 2006) and Long River High Sky was an integrative movement project with the Shaolin monks of China (Spring 2007).

He has works in the repertories of companies throughout the world including the Swedish Royal Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Washington Ballet. He has works in the repertories of companies throughout the world including the Swedish Royal Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Washington Ballet. He has worked extensively in opera, television, and film and has choreographed works for prima ballerina Natalia Makarova and film star Patrick Swayze. Mr. King has also collaborated with artists such as actor Danny Glover
Danny Glover
Danny Lebern Glover is an American actor, film director, and political activist. Glover is perhaps best known for his role as Detective Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film franchise.-Early life:...

, legendary jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders is a Grammy Award–winning American jazz saxophonist.Saxophonist Ornette Coleman once described him as "probably the best tenor player in the world." Emerging from John Coltrane's groups of the mid-60s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on...

, and tabla master Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain (musician)
Zakir Hussain , , is an Indian tabla player, musical producer, film actor and composer.-Early life:Hussain was born in Mumbai, India to the legendary tabla player Alla Rakha. He attended St...

. Renowned for his skill as a teacher, Mr. King has been the guest ballet master for National Ballet of Canada, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Ballet West and others.

King has choreographed works that are presently in the repertoire of several national and international companies, including the Royal Swedish Ballet
Royal Swedish Ballet
The Royal Swedish Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in Europe. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, King Gustav III founded the ballet in 1773 as a part of his national cultural project in response to the French and Italian dominance in this field; he also founded the Royal Swedish Opera and the...

, Ballett Frankfurt, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a modern dance company based in New York, New York. It was founded in 1958 by choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey...

, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem is a ballet company and school of the allied arts founded in Harlem, New York City, USA in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook...

, The Joffrey Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, the North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Washington Ballet
Washington Ballet
The Washington Ballet is an ensemble of professional athletic classical ballet dancers. It was founded in 1976 by American ballet pioneer Mary Day, and has been under the artistic directorship of Septime Webre since 1999.-The Mary Day years :...

. He has worked with an illustrious group of actors, singers and dancers including ballerina Natalia Makarova
Natalia Makarova
Nataliya Romanovna Makarova is the legendary Soviet-Russian-born prima ballerina. The History of Dance, published in 1981, notes that “Her performances set standards of artistry and aristocracy of dance which mark her as the finest ballerina of her generation.” She has also won awards as an...

, film star Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze
Patrick Wayne Swayze was an American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter. He was best known for his tough-guy roles, as romantic leading men in the hit films Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and as Orry Main in the North and South television miniseries. He was named by People magazine as its "Sexiest...

, and actor Danny Glover. In addition to these partnerships, King has contributed choreography for feature films including One Last Dance (2003) and Alonzo King Goes to Venice (2005); the latter was screened at the 2005 Lincoln Center Dance Festival in New York and was a feature presentation at the Dance Camera West Festival in Los Angeles. In March 2004 King was profiled on KQED-TV’s Spark program. King is also credited with the choreography for Karina Epperlein’s 2007 film Phoenix Dance. Starring Homer Avila, Phoenix Dance was one of eight documentaries listed for an Oscar nomination.

Among King's works are seven collaborations with jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders is a Grammy Award–winning American jazz saxophonist.Saxophonist Ornette Coleman once described him as "probably the best tenor player in the world." Emerging from John Coltrane's groups of the mid-60s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on...

.

King has received five Isadora Duncan Awards and an NEA Choreographer’s Fellowship and the Irvine Dance Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Master of African-American choreography by the Kennedy Center and awarded a Bessie Award for choreography. King is the recipient of one of four Fellowships in Dance (and the only one in California) that was awarded by the United States Artists
United States Artists
United States Artists is an independent nonprofit and nongovernmental philanthropic organization based in Los Angeles, California and dedicated to supporting the work of living American artists by the granting of cash awards, called USA Fellowships...

 organization in recognition of 50 outstanding living artists in America. In 2007, his received an honorary degree from CalArts, his alma mater.

Family history


Alonzo King's rich family history has greatly impacted the African American struggle for political and social equality. This history is partially detailed in Open Dem Cells: a Pictorial History of the Albany Movement, by Mary Royal Jenkins.

Alonzo King is the son of prominent civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 activists Slater King and Valencia King Nelson. Slater King was a successful real estate broker who focused his entrepreneurial skills on farsighted plans to help African Americans in Albany and Dougherty County achieve economic independence. Valencia King, his mother, a social worker and genealogist started an online genealogy resource for African Americans searching their ancestry (www.AfriGeneas.com). Slater King graduated from Oberlin College and Valencia King Nelson from Ohio State University.

Alonzo King’s uncle, C. B. King, was a significant African American lawyer known for his courage, courtroom eloquence, and legal skills in the face of fierce and even violent opposition during the civil rights struggle in southwest Georgia. The first black lawyer in the area, C.B. King
C.B. King
C.B. King could be:* Chevene Bowers King, a pioneering African American attorney.* Charles Brady King, automotive pioneer, engineer and inventor....

 was an inspiration to an entire generation of young law interns and civil rights activists. Another of Alonzo King’s uncles, Preston King
Preston King
Preston King was a United States Representative and Senator from New York.- Biography :Born in Ogdensburg, New York, he pursued classical studies and graduated from Union College in 1827, where he was an early member of The Kappa Alpha Society. He studied law and was admitted to the bar. He...

, an accomplished lecturer and professor of philosophy, lived abroad in exile for nearly forty years and cousin, Oona King
Oona King
Oona Tamsyn King, Baroness King of Bow is a Baroness and Member of the House of Lords, and former Chief Diversity Officer of Channel 4. She previously had served as a Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow from 1997 until 2005, when she was defeated by Respect candidate George...

became only the second black woman to be elected as member of Parliament in 1997 (the first being Diane Abbott). Oona King has been selected as one of 100 Great Black Britons for this achievement.

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