“[Jones’s] gifts: pungent, purposeful character development, compelling storytelling and pure-dance interludes of slippery and often deeply romantic choreography.” —Washington Post
Minneapolis, January 17, 2012— Bill T. Jones, 2010 recipient of the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors for being one of America’s most accomplished dance-makers and the creative force behind Broadway hits Spring Awakening and Fela!, returns to the Walker with his 12-member international company and a new work, Story/Time. A master storyteller, Jones offers 70 stories in 70 minutes in this exhilarating homage to John Cage and Merce Cunningham. Jones commands center stage with his flow of autobiographical narratives and celebrated choreography complemented by original music and video. The Walker-commissioned Story/Time will be performed Thursday–Sunday, February 16–19, at 8 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.
When interviewed for the Walker’s magazine during a residency at the William and Nadine McGuire Theater last summer, Jones reflected on his newest work: “Bill T. Jones the performer was saying, ’What about me?’ I had retired from dancing five years ago. I say I only dance when I’m happy, which means I dance in my living room, I dance for friends, or whenever I feel it. But then I had this desire to get back on stage and do something that I felt my knees and my ankles and my back would allow me to do and not have to go through every day being in a dance company. So storytelling and singing are very important to me, and I thought that’s what I would do: make a program of telling stories in places that I feel comfortable in, like the Walker. And then something happens. There is this hungry child, which is called a dance company. And the child has an appetite, always: ‘What’s new?’”
Bill T. Jones and the Walker Art Center
Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane were first presented by the Walker in 1981 as part of its New Dance USA Festival featuring important emerging artists. Jones and the company have returned ten times since then, including the Walker’s mounting of his massive community-based projects The Promised Land in 1990 and Still/Here in 1994, works co-commissioned by the Walker (with Northrop Auditorium) that have gone on to be acclaimed as modern masterworks. In 1997, the Walker mounted the exhibition Art Performs Life: Merce Cunningham, Meredith Monk, Bill T. Jones, an important museum survey of Jones’ artistic career to that point. In conjunction with Art Performs Life, Jones and the Walker launched a four-year residency relationship (1998-2001) which resulted in the Walker’s presentation (with Northrop Auditorium) of two major company works, We Set Out Early…Visibility was Poor and You Walk?; more than eight weeks of residency activities involving thousands of community members; the Walker’s commissioning of Jones’ research for his music-theater work The Loud Boy and assisting his development of his solo evening The Breathing Show; the mounting of the exhibition Artist in Residence: Bill T. Jones in 2000 and the commissioning and development of Jones’ The Table Project which received its world premiere performances in the Walker lobby in March 2001 and has since gone on to significant international acclaim. The presentation of Another Evening celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the 20th Anniversary of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. The landmark performance collaboration with Cassandra Wilson on in June of 2003, also launched a second four-year commitment between Bill T. Jones and the Walker Art Center which resuledted in continued residencies, commissions and performances through 2006. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was in residence at the Walker from May 23rd to June 5, 2005, for the final technical and artistic development of a new evening-length work. This was one of the first times that the William and Nadine McGuire Theater was turned over to a company for a two-week developmental residency. Comprised of five solo dance works and interspersed with live musical interludes, the performance evening included With the Good Lord, commissioned by the Walker to inaugurate the William and Nadine McGuire Theater and celebrate its decades-long relationship with Jones. While in residence, Jones and company members offered unique opportunities for students and audiences to gain access to their artistic process, and to discuss issues which surround our community and their work.
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company returned to the Twin Cities March 10, 2006, performing the full length company piece Blind Date at Northrop Auditorium, copresented with the Walker.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Now in its 29th year, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was born out of an11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948-1988). During this time, they redefined the duet form and foreshadowed issues of identity, form and social commentary that would change the face of American dance. The Company emerged onto the international scene in 1983 with the world premiere of Intuitive Momentum, which featured legendary drummer Max Roach, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since then, the 10-member Company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 30 countries on every major continent. Today, the Company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world.
The repertory of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is widely varied in its subject matter, visual imagery and stylistic approach to movement, voice and stagecraft and includes musically-driven works as well as works using a variety of texts. The Company has been acknowledged for its intensely collaborative method of creation that has included artists as diverse as Keith Haring, Cassandra Wilson, The Orion String Quartet, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, Fred Hersch, Jenny Holzer, Robert Longo, Julius Hemphill, and Daniel Bernard Roumain, among others. The collaborations of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company with visual artists were the subject of Art Performs Life (1998), a groundbreaking exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Some of its most celebrated creations are evening length works including Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990, Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music); Still/Here (1994, Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France); We Set Out Early… Visibility Was Poor (1996, Hancher Auditorium,Iowa City, IA); You Walk? (2000, European Capital of Culture 2000, Bolgna, Italy); Blind Date (2006, Peak Performances at Montclair State University); Chapel/Chapter (2006, Harlem Stage Gatehouse); and Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray (2009, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL). The ongoing, site-specific Another Evening was last performed in its seventh incarnation as Another Evening: Venice/Arsenale (2010, La Biennale di Venezia).
The Company has also produced two evenings centered on Bill T. Jones’s solo performance: The Breathing Show (1999, Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City, IA) and As I Was Saying… (2005, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN).
The Company has been featured in many publications and one of the most in-depth examinations of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane’s collaborations can be found in Body Against Body: The Dance and Other Collaborations of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1989 – Station Hill Press) edited by Elizabeth Zimmer.
The Company has received numerous awards, including New York Dance and Performance Awards (“Bessie”) for Chapel/Chapter at Harlem Stage (2006), The Table Project (2001), D-Man in the Waters (1989 and 2001), musical scoring and costume design for Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990) and for the groundbreaking Joyce Theater season (1986). The Company was nominated for the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Dance and Best New Dance Production” for We Set Out Early… Visibility was Poor. The Company celebrated its landmark 20th anniversary at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with 37 guest artists including Susan Sarandon, Cassandra Wilson and Vernon Reid. The Phantom Project: The 20th Season presented a diverse repertoire of over 15 revivals and new works.
During the Company’s 25th anniversary season in 2007, Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL offered the Company its most significant commission to date: to create a work to honor the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The Company created three new productions in response: 100 Migrations (2008), a site-specific community performance project; Serenade/The Proposition (2008), examining the nature of history; and Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray (2009), the making of which is the subject of a feature-length documentary by Kartemquin Films entitled A Good Man, broadcast on PBS American Masters in 2011.
The Company has distinguished itself through extensive community outreach and educational programs, including partnerships with Bard College, where company members teach an innovative curriculum rooted in the Company’s creative model and highly collaborative methods; and with Lincoln Center Institute, which uses Company works in its educator-training and in-school repertory programs. University and college dance programs throughout the U.S. work with the Company to reconstruct significant works for their students. The Company conducts intensive workshops for professional and pre-professional dancers and produces a broad range of discussion events at home and on the road, all born from the strong desire to “participate in the world of ideas.”
Tickets to Story/Time are: Thursday evening/Sunday matinee, $34 ($29 Walker members); Friday–Saturday, $38 ($33) and are available at walkertart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.
Q&A with Bill T. Jones
Join Bill T. Jones after the Friday performance for a stirring conversation about the development of this new work.
Meet the artists, talk about the show, and enjoy a drink at happy hour prices, including specialty cocktails with Prairie Organic Vodka. Located in the McGuire Theater, the Balcony Bar is open one hour before and after all performances.
Meet at the back of the Balcony Bar after Saturday’s performance for an informal conversation with a Walker tour guide and local choreographer Patrick Scully. Jump into the discussion or just listen in—it’s risk-free!
Master Class with Janet Wong
Saturday, February 18, 11 am-1 pm
$13 ($10 Walker members)
Janet Wong, rehearsal director for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, conducts a modern dance class that introduces material and concepts from the repertoire and explores group dynamics, group consciousness, weight sharing, level changing, and a movement vocabulary specific to the Jones/Zane style. Limited to 30 participants. Intermediate to advanced/professional-level dancers only. Reservations recommended.
Story/Time was co-commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State University and the Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. The work was developed in residence at Arizona State University Gammage Auditorium, Bard College, Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, University of Virginia, and the Walker Art Center.
Additional support in honor of Dale Schatzlein (1948–2006) and his important work in support of dance and jazz in the Twin Cities, provided by Emily Maltz.