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.
Chapel/Chapter’s spirit is conveyed through live music performed by an ensemble of contemporary musicians: voicestrumentalist Lipbone Redding, a singer/multi-instrumentalist who has been variously described as a vocal trickster and experimental cowboy; cellist Christopher Lancaster, who creates multi-layered, textural music through the use of real-time samplers and effect processing; and soprano Alicia Hall Moran, a classical singer whose influences range from opera to jazz and art song.
The movement vocabulary represents a serious departure for the company. It has been generated through highly formal means whereby the dancers imagine their movements to be existing on invisible keyboards that allow them to spell out terse, sometimes ironic, truisms such as: “The road to hell is paved in any way you like.” The road to heaven is not paved.” “These roads look the same so don’t get lost!” This formal exercise results in hyper-physical, aggressively virtuosic dance material, oftentimes held strictly on the floor grid drawing that suggests a nave divided into ten equal squares and an apse.
The choreographer hopes the piece is able to create a self-enclosed world and a language made up of song, music and words (court transcripts, newspaper articles and jailhouse interviews) in dialog with a rigorous, joyful movement vocabulary. Chapel/Chapter proceeds from the assumption that we always live in the court of public opinion, transgression and judgment. The piece strives to invite that reading of the “real world” to come into the intimacy of a freely imagined contemplative space.
Choreography by Bill T. Jones
Collaborative musical score composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Alicia Hall Moran, Christopher Lancaster, Lipbone Redding
Video by Janet Wong
Scenic Design by Bjorn Amelan
Lighting by Robert Wierzel
Costumes by Liz Prince
Asli Bulbul, Antonio Brown, Peter Chamberlain, Leah Cox, Maija Garcia, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, LaMichael Leonard, Erick Montes, Charles Scott, and Andrea Smith