Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company : What Problem?


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What Problem?


Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s latest work What Problem? provokes the tension between belonging to a community and feelings of isolation that many feel during these divisive political times. Adapted for proscenium stages from the massive work, Deep Blue Sea (2021), Jones conceived of this highly personal work in pursuit of the elusive “we” including a cast of local community members, a deconstructed text from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Jones and the company develop individual content with local community members in each of the touring locations making each performance specific to its host city.

Jones reflects on King’s immortal words, we shall overcome, mixed with the scripture of our democracy as formed and shaped by WE THE PEOPLE. There has always been an uneasy recognition of the truth at the base of the great Du Bois statement concerning “the problem of the color line” for Du Bois represented the epitome of otherness; yet we now understand this is much more complex. In our fractious era, What Problem? elaborates on this line in terms of sexual politics, gender identity, class struggles and immigration.

Adapted from Deep Blue Sea which was originally commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and Manchester International Festival in collaboration with Holland Festival and first performed on September 28, 2021. Additional commissioning support provided by The Mann Center for the Performing Arts with original support for Deep Blue Sea provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia. What Problem? Commissioning support provided by Carolina Performing Arts, Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts, Indiana University Auditorium, George Mason University and Dancers’ Workshop, Partners in Creation, Ed Bradley Family Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Rehearsal support provided by MASS MoCA, Mana Contemporary and Bethany Arts Community. What Problem? was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Produced and developed by Park Avenue Armory in collaboration with New York Live Arts. Visual environment, video projection and lighting design conceived by Elizabeth Diller (DS+R) and Peter Nigrini for Deep Blue Sea have been adapted for the staging of What Problem?

About the Artist:
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company