Famed choreographer guides dance students

The creator and artistic director of LINES Ballet in San Francisco will conclude his visit as the dance department’s Green Honors Chair with a public question-and-answer session titled “Conversations on Dance” at 7 p.m. tonight.Alonzo King, choreographer, is the first Green Honors Chair the dance department has had since Miguel Mancillas visited in 2004.

Elizabeth Gillaspy, assistant professor of ballet, said King was chosen as the department’s Green Chair because he is moving the art of ballet forward in a contemporary way and is articulate about his work.

“He’s an amazing teacher, as well as an artist,” Gillaspy said.

Krista Jennings, a junior dance and English major, said King’s work is celebrated in the dance world.

“He’s considered one of the great American choreographers alive today,” Jennings said.

King’s company, LINES, is an international touring dance company that performs unique contemporary ballets across the world, according to its Web site.

Although King will only be on campus two days, his schedule is quite full, Gillaspy said.

On Monday, King’s events were focused on dance students.

Monday morning, he taught ballet, contemporary choreography and dance history classes. Later in the evening, he conducted a creative workshop.

While only a select few were able to participate in the workshop, the entire department was invited to watch, Gillaspy said.

Geneva Laube, a senior dance major who attended one of King’s classes Monday, said he talked a lot about the relationship between musicality and dancing.

“His passion for dance is very strong and he is a very intelligent man,” Laube said.

Today, however, there will be two events geared toward the community: a ballet class and the “Conversations on Dance” session.

“Part of what is stipulated with a Green Chair is that some of their activities are also open to the community,” Gillaspy said. “It’s also about introducing and invigorating the larger community with this person’s expertise.”

The community ballet class will be made up of dancers invited from companies and dance studios across the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Gillaspy said. The question-and-answer session, however, will be open to anyone who would like to come, she said.

At the session, King will field questions from the audience about dance and his work as a choreographer and artistic director.

Ellen Shelton, chair of the dance department, said she hopes community members and other students will come out for the event.

“I hope many will take advantage of this opportunity to learn about and from Alonzo King,” Shelton said.