Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company
Afterwardsness – UMASS Fine Arts Center
In the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, afterwardsness is “a mode of belated understanding or retroactive attribution of sexual or traumatic meaning to earlier events…”
Jettisoning the sexual component and emphasizing the notion of “trauma”, this awkward though evocative term comes very close to describing Jones’ state of mind when offered a commission to create a socially-distanced work at this particular collective moment. In some ways, the title parodies Jones’ (and many others’) desire to have reached an end point to our twin pandemics: COVID-19 and and on- going violence against Black bodies.
The piece was constructed quickly and within the constraints and uncertainty of social distancing. Afterwardsness engages a retrospective dimension from choreographic assignments given to the dancers during their isolation. The dancers studied archival videos and learned phrase material stretching back 40 years and no longer in the company’s repertory. Musical Director Pauline Kim Harris, in collaboration with composer/vocalist/instrumentalist Holland Andrews, created a composite score that includes Kim’s original work Homage written in honor of George Floyd. Following the work’s retroactive logic, the score also includes a conscious excerpting of Olivier Messaien’s great war-time composition Quartet for the End of Time.
Originally commissioned and produced by Park Avenue Armory