"A richly textured and layered theatrical adventure" - The New York Times
How do we human beings live together? How do we co-exist with others who may be close to us, yet so very different from ourselves? How do we live with those not only in our own household, but in our neighborhood, our city, our country and our ever-fracturing planet?
Celebrated as a masterful and magnetic soloist, Bill T. Jones, building on the success of his last solo work, The Breathing Show (1999), creates an eclectic new evening-length production: As I Was Saying… Comprised from three different works, it typifies Jones' characteristic blend of wit and poignancy. The evening is built on modularity that allows Jones to recombine various dances such as:
In the hands of choreographer Bill T. Jones, dance becomes an extraordinary tool for probing life's big questions and journeying toward understanding. In this new evening-length work, Blind Date explores patriotism, honor, sacrifice, and service to a cause larger than oneself-values all but lost in our modern world. Jones's technically stunning 10-member company performs in a sensory landscape of primary colors, video imagery, and musical influences from around the world. As if on a "blind date," wisdom and eloquence meet dumbed-down fundamentalism in this explosive meditation on opposing forces and contrasting beliefs.
Bill T. Jones sees Chapel/Chapter in its present form as the beginning of an investigation. As always, the work is proceeding from a set of questions. For Jones the lead question might be, "How can this event suggest the uneasy distance our mediatized era helps create between the passive observers which we are and the disturbing, sometimes incomprehensible 'news items' we encounter every day. At this stage of his thinking, the choreographer/director sees Chapel/Chapter as a site specific work meaning that while he would ideally install the environment created by set designer Bjorn Amelan, videographer Janet Wong and lighting designer Robert Wierzel in a non-conventional space, even a conventional performing venue will be subject to some rethinking. The goal of Chapel/Chapter is to create an intimate experience between the audience and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company as it retells three stories, two of them high visibility news items and one a reminiscence/confession offered by a company member.
Continuing his tradition of thought-provoking work, Bill T. Jones commemorates the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial with a production exploring the life and legacy of this complex figure. Commissioned by Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, the dance-theater evening features the sophisticated movement of his diverse dancers accompanied by an original score for cello, guitar, piano and voice, performed live. The films of Janet Wong fill a striking, modern stage design while the conflicts that defined Lincoln’s time are embodied in the dance as the swirling forces of a maelstrom. Singers and an actor deliver a probing and uplifting libretto drawn from the Old Testament, the poems of Whitman, and Lincoln’s own words. The phrase taken from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address to title the work, Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray captures the vision of the piece: an examination of what Lincoln and his time mean today, and our hopes for the future.
First performed at the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, New York
One of three works that grew from Bill T. Jones’ interest in Abraham Lincoln, Serenade/The Proposition is described as his first attempt to grapple with issues of historical weight using the tools of dance and theater. What results is a spirited and lyrical sixty-minute production that moves gracefully from images and texts of early America to contemporary ideas of identity and belonging described in the dancers’ own words. What does history look like to someone born in 1981? How does his perception differ from someone born in 1954? Or 1881? Questions of historical perspective are close at hand in the piece, balanced by inventive group movement and dynamic solos set on a stage of movable columns animated by video projection. Evoking the sounds and sentiments of Lincoln’s era, the original live score draws from Mozart’s Requiem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie” to create a contemporary, playful musical collage for cello, piano and soprano.