LINES Ballet Artistic Director Alonzo King Shares Insights Into His Creative Process
Alonzo King has been called a visionary choreographer, who is altering the way we look at ballet. King calls his works “thought structures” created by the manipulation of energies that exist in matter through laws, which govern the shapes and movement directions of everything that exists. Since 1982, King, celebrated for his “astonishing originality” by the New York Times, has collaborated with noted composers, musicians and visual artists from around the world.
This month, from October 1-6 at YBCA, King is collaborating with tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran on a new ballet. His unique artistic vision adheres to the classical form — the linear, mathematical and geometrical principles that are deeply rooted in the preexisting East-West continuum. Here, King shares his thoughts on his creative process.
People often ask me about my creative process. It usually starts with an idea or a vision. That vision requires a blueprint combined with will, intuition, and energetic vibration. Sometimes the first blueprints of ideas appear in crude forms. It requires stillness, relaxation, and intensified awareness to fully comprehend and refine those forms into shimmering realities. In all creation the components are light, sound, movement and the cosmic intelligence inherent in those properties. Light is condensed thought; sound is creative vibration; movement is energy.
The model I use in creating is based on the Primary Model, as exhibited in the exhaustless creativity manifested in nature. Not in its appearance but rather its mode of operation; and as expressed in the metaphysical statement, "as above, so below." In his book, "The Mysterious Universe," astrophysicist James Jean states, “The universe looks more and more like a great thought rather than a great machine.”
We have three incomparable superpowers: the mind, will, and heart. The nuclear powerhouse of the human body is the mind. It is the principle architect for both creativity and liberation. As Athena sprung from the head of Zeus, so too, thought is the birth of causation. Our lives are the result of our thoughts — and any desired change in pattern requires a change in thought. Our journey toward a goal is often accompanied by obstacles. This allows us to develop the latent powers that are hidden within. The mind, when disciplined, is all conquering. Science, as well as ancient mystic traditions, acknowledges that as yet we have not fully accessed the totality of the mind’s unlimited possibilities.
Once the mind affirms that something must be accomplished, the will engages and produces indefatigable energy that can stand steadfast against every obstacle. It is the undistracted mind, ever focused on the vision and fueled by willpower, that creates. Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi," called willpower as symbolized in the human spine, the ‘magic wand’ of the body.
Finally, we cannot forget the heart. The law of the universe is based in love, because love is law. Love is the summation of everything.
These forces drive my collaborations. My aim is to build something with my collaborators that would otherwise not exist as an offering to the common good. We are building a premiere with a team of brilliant artists — Charles Lloyd, Jason Moran, the 12 dance artists at LINES, Robert Rosenwasser, Jim Campbell, Jim French — and an invisible behind-the-scenes armada of brilliant minds, all contributing to launching this new vessel.
Constant activity can pull us away from having an interior life. It is an incredible honor to have people pause their fast-paced lives to come to listen to what is being said for an uninterrupted hour. When you come to the theater you are being asked to step into your own inner world. I create because I want to offer humanity a truth and a beauty that will awaken the memory of the divinity that exists within all of us.