Experience the Stunning Original World of Alonzo King and LINES Ballet

October 22, 2023
Photo © RJ Muna. Two dancers wearing brown and black appear in front of a gray backdrop. One dancer extends a leg straight to the right while bending backward toward the second dancer, who stands at a slight angle with one leg bent at the knee, holding onto the arm of the other dancer.

Check out these featured facts surrounding Alonzo King LINES Ballet: Deep River Nov 2 at Northrop.

Alonzo King in a beige hat and shirt in front of a black background, looking into the camera.

Photo courtesy of company.

Deep River

Alonzo King has been called a visionary choreographer, who is altering the way we look at ballet. He reveals that Deep River is a reminder “that love is the ocean that we rose from, swim in, and will one day return to”—that love can set us free. The work, created over three years in unusual settings throughout the pandemic, is regarded as a piece written with the heart, a love letter to a world writhing in pain, served by exceptional dancers. San Francisco Chronicle recognizes the piece as “a striking reminder of the universality King has reclaimed for ballet.”

Life & Movement

Alonzo King, a choreographer with “astonishing originality” (The New York Times), has guided LINES Ballet since 1982. Born in Georgia to civil rights activist parents, King found his form of expression through the language of movement and has come to be one of the most visionary figures altering the way we look at dance.

Named a Master of Choreography by the Kennedy Center in 2005, King is the recipient of the NEA Choreographer’s Fellowship, the Jacob’s Pillow Creativity Award, the US Artist Award in Dance, NY Bessie Award, and the National Dance Project’s Residency and Touring Awards. In 2015 he received the Doris Duke Artist Award in recognition of his ongoing contributions to the advancement of contemporary dance. Joining historical icons in the field, King was named one of America’s “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures” by the Dance Heritage Coalition.

He is a former San Francisco commissioner, and a writer and lecturer on humanity and art. Inducted into the California Hall of Fame, King holds an honorary Doctorate from Dominican University, California Institute of the Arts, and The Juilliard School.

A ballerina stands on pointe with her left leg in the air as Alonzo King stands behind her, guiding her in class.

Photo courtesy of artist.

Dance Discovery

LINES Ballet contributes to training the next generation of artists through several education programs—a pre-professional summer program, a training program, and its unique four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program at Dominican University of California. LINES also makes dance accessible to adults and youth through world-class, affordable classes open to the community at the company’s San Francisco-based LINES Dance Center, and free in-school education with its HeART with LINES partnerships.

Lisa Fischer smiling in front of a dark gray background, looking into the camera.

Photo © Alex Logaiski.

A Musical Dialogue

Deep River is set to an original recorded score by jazz pianist, composer, and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran, with vocals by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer. The music also weaves in excerpts of Black and Jewish spiritual music and selections by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, composer Maurice Ravel, and poet James Weldon Johnson. The Los Angeles Times has lauded Moran as “dance’s most sought-after composer.”

Moran is a frequent collaborator of Alonzo King’s—their first artistic venture, jazz ballet Refraction, debuted in 2009. In considering collaborations, King has stated he prefers them to be “tricky or potentially perilous.” He has worked with an expansive list of musicians, from tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain to the Baka pygmies of the central African rainforests.

Jason Moran in front of a white and gray background, looking into the camera.

Photo courtesy of artist.

Familiar Faces

Alonzo King LINES Ballet most recently dazzled Northrop audiences in 2018 with The Propelled Heart (Suite), which also featured vocalist Lisa Fischer, and Biophony—a fascinating investigation of life on earth. Twin Cities audiences may also recognize composer Jason Moran from Walker Art Center’s Interdisciplinary Initiative, featuring the artist through a series of projects from 2016-2020. Offerings included an exhibit, artwork, performances, and a curated magazine. Moran was the composer for Martha Graham Dance Company’s Canticle for Innocent Comedians co-commissioned by Northrop in 2022.


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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.