Alonzo King Inducted into California Hall of Fame
The founder and artistic director of San Francisco’s LINES Ballet, Alonzo King, was in good company at a recent event as he mingled with soccer player Megan Rapinoe, chef Roy Choi, singer Linda Ronstadt, figure skater Peggy Fleming and several more notable Californians. The event was the induction of King and the others into the California Hall of Fame, which, since 2006 has set out to honor “trailblazing Californians who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and have made history.” King and the 10 other inductees were chosen for the honor by Governor Gavin Newsom and first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who both also attended, for achievements in arts, business and labor, entertainment, food and wine, literature, music, public service, science and sports.
For King, who started the company in 1982 because he “had some strong opinions about things that I wanted to say through movement,” it was another milestone in an illustrious and vibrant career. “I think that ideas become clearer and you become more concise as you age. You see patterns in yourself, you see patterns in the design,” King says. “With longevity there is a clarity.”
When King started, he didn’t imagine he’d still be putting on performances more than 40 years later. “I think that when you’re young and filled with enthusiasm, nothing seems difficult,” he says. “And it’s the honeymoon period until you begin to realize that this is about self-reform. Inevitably, all relationships are.”
King has works in the repertories of the world’s leading ballet and modern companies and has collaborated with numerous visual artists, composers and musicians around the world. “My obsession is to have the work be well and truly made,” King says. “I don’t think any maker wants to be trendy, or is thinking about style; they’re thinking about how to tell the truth.”
Ask what sets his contemporary ballet style apart, he takes a broader view. “When you look at a well-examined life like Gandhi or Harriet Tubman’s, those are ballets, those are living designs of movement and intention,” King says. “And you see the effort involved. And you see the result, you see the stamina and the perseverance, you see the fixed idea on one statement and having it being realized.”
One thing King built into LINES Ballet from the beginning was a focus on the next generation. To that end the organization offers youth and school programs, training, even a four-year bachelor of fine arts degree program taught at San Rafael’s Dominican University and the company’s S.F. studios. “I love being able to impart wisdom to other people and unlock the genius inside of them because everyone has it, and it is a wonderful and honorable thing to do,” he says. “To watch them transform is brilliant.”
As for what the induction ceremony was like, King says it was a special evening. “It was really a lot of fun to be around people who love what they’re doing. And they’re successful at it,” he says, adding that he especially enjoyed meeting another inductee who understands a thing or two about movement. “I’ve watched Peggy Fleming my entire life — you know, watching her moves. So to meet her was fun.”