By SAMPATH VINJAMUR RAMANUJAN
This post was written as an assignment for Professor Brynn Saito's multi-genre MFA-level writing workshop, WRC 7093. In this class, students produce new fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, while reflecting on their lives, influences, and processes as artists and writers.
I hadn't heard of his name before, or who he was, or what he was doing; Cindy Shearer, program chair of CIIS' MFA department, had indeed sent an email inviting MFA students to the rehearsal of Alonzo King's latest work under production. I wasn't interested and I didn't go. In fact, Cindy's Saturday Night @ CIIS event postcard announced tonight's program well in advance, which didn't make much of a difference to me then.
And so I walked into Namaste Hall, and surveyed the refreshments MFA program coordinator, Theresa Newman, had relentlessly organized for the evening. My eyes searched for her to confirm which one was vegetarian, as I couldn't identify a dish which looked like one. Alonzo had arrived by that time and was chatting with Cindy and others while I sank into a chair and resigned myself to another session, and mercifully the last, after a long day of workshopping.
Cindy did exceedingly well moderating the event; obviously, she was having a blast, as she mentioned later. It was evident she was an admirer of Alonzo's work and has been closely following his work as the artistic director of the Lines Ballet. She asked several questions pertaining to his art, his ballet company, the collaborators and performances and his upcoming programs.
The responses from Alonzo were phenomenal. Whatever the questions were, Alonzo returned to one answer; the philosophy, or more precisely, the spirituality of art. While the audience wanted to hear more about the ladder he used to reach the artistic heights, Alonzo was actually describing what art feels like after you reach the peak. Hearing him speak about his relationship with art, the capacity for unconditional love for art, the difference between making, doing and being, and the importance of falling and getting up quickly, I could see what he was talking about: something religion and spirituality have been talking about over the centuries: a capacity to "Know Thyself."
When the event was over I felt the urge to get up and go talk to him. At the same time, I didn't want to go. He had said all that he had to say and I had heard what I wanted to hear. Meeting in person became irrelevant. The regret that I didn't go and watch his gracious movements during the rehearsal disappeared.
I just lingered on, unmindful of time, my bus to King and 4th, and the need to catch the 2015 Caltrain to go home.
Alonzo is King.