Spotlight highlights on Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Apr 27, 2018
  • Alonzo King is the son of civil rights activist Slater King and Valencia King Nelson, a pioneer in black genealogy. His uncles, attorney C.B. King and Preston King, also are known for their civil rights work. His cousin Oona Tamsyn King was elected to Parliament in 1997 (the second black woman to achieve this status), and was selected as one of 100 Great Black Britons that year. Alonzo King says he’d “like to see politicians dancing. I’d like to see the world practicing art. Because the introspection from true art practice can’t lie.”
  • After high school, King turned down several scholarships to attend Fisk University, a black institution in Tennessee. He was tired of being the only black in all-white schools, he said.
  • After moving to San Francisco in 1982, King created his own company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet. He also developed his own choreographic style by combining the clean lines of classical ballet with non-Western spirituality and movement traditions and the use of structured improvisation.
  • In 2006, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet formed a partnership with Dominican University of California to create the first joint Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance on the West Coast. This is the only BFA offered in the U.S. that is led by an active master choreographer.
  • The first piece on the May 1 program at Northrop premiered in November 2015. The Propelled Heart, pays tribute to the power of song. Grammy Award-winning singer Lisa Fischer, who was a former back-up artist for Aretha Franklin. On stage, 12 dancers channel Fischer’s inspiration and explore the kinetics of the human voice and the communicative potential of the body as an instrument.
  • The second piece in Northrop’s performance, Biophony, also premiered in 2015 (in April). It studies the sounds in various biomes and expands on those through dance. Called "riveting" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Biophony was created in partnership with natural soundscape artist Bernie Krause and composer Richard Blackford. Alonzo King and Bernie Krause discussed their collaborative process with KQED's Scott Shafer.
  • For almost 50 years, Krause traveled across the globe to gather sounds of the earth and its creatures. From the rainforests of Borneo to a waterhole in Kenya, from the Alaskan tundra to a meadow high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Krause’s recordings carry imprints of habitats in peril. Krause explained that while recording chimpanzees at Gombe, Jane Goodall’s Tanzanian research site, he and a colleague came upon a low-lying bush filled with a swarm of African bees, which he describes as one of the most important organisms in a healthy ecosystem. Jane Goodall spoke at Northrop March 23 in a program titled “Tomorrow and Beyond: An Evening with Jane Goodall.”
  • Movement 7 of Biophony is titled A Gift of Bees. The University of Minnesota Bee Squad will be at Northrop for the May 1 performance to discuss beekeeping and offer limited honey tastings.
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