P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2004
September 1, 2004
Jacob's Pillow and MASS MoCA Bring Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company to North Adams
(North Adams, Mass.) --As part of their ongoing partnership, MASS MoCA and Jacob's Pillow co-present the award-winning work of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, October 1-3 in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA. The company performs a pair of Mr. Jones' critically acclaimed works from 2003, Reading, Mercy and The Artificial Nigger; Mercy 10 x 8 on a Circle; plus the revival of Continuous Replay, a rarely seen and newly restaged work by Mr. Jones' late partner Arnie Zane. The performances are related to MASS MoCA's exhibition, The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere which includes the work of 29 artists and collectives who use art to intervene in the public realm for social change. Mr. Jones' choreography is well known not only for its dynamic physicality and highly trained, charismatic, contemporary dancers, but for its social commentary, making it a fitting complement to the exhibit. As an activist, Mr. Jones has done much to bring attention to issues of AIDS and race.Combining the text of Flannery O'Connor's disturbing short story, The Artificial Nigger, read by two actors against Daniel Bernard Roumain's radiant original score Reading, Mercy and The Artificial Nigger reflects upon the story's questions about race, power and human relationships rather than simply illustrating the written story. Mercy 10 x 8 on a Circle is a companion work that further abstracts the racial themes of the dance, where Mr. Jones pushes his formalist choreography to an even higher level. The program begins with Mr. Zane's Continuous Replay, originally a solo (entitled Hand Dance when premiered in 1977) restaged here by Mr. Jones as an ensemble work for the company. Continuous Replay is an accumulation of 45 hand and arm gestures that provide the framework for a structured improvisation. In a related PillowTalk, Jacob's Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff leads In Conversation with Bill T. Jones at MASS MoCA in Club B-10 on Saturday, October 2 at 5pm (Tickets for the discussion are free, but must be reserved in advance by calling 413.662.2111). Performances of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company are Friday, October 1 at 8pm; Saturday, October 2 at 8pm; and Sunday, October 3 at 4pm. Tickets are $34 (orchestra), $28 (mezzanine), with special $20 tickets available for seniors and students for the Sunday matinée. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours, or purchased online at www.massmoca.org. Jacob's Pillow, which has presented dance in the Berkshires for 72 years, was instrumental in the founding of MASS MoCA's performing arts programs. The two institutions have partnered to bring year-round dance experiences to the Berkshires since MASS MoCA opened to the public in 1999. This partnership has brought co-presentations of companies including the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Dance Brazil, creative development residencies for artists including Zvi Gotheiner and Urban Bush Women's Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and dance instruction for most of MASS MoCA's popular dance parties. "We are delighted to work for the fifth year with Jacob's Pillow. They have been a wonderful partner since even before MASS MoCA opened. Working with them has given us the opportunity to bring exceptional talents to the area like Bill T. Jones. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is consistently one of the most radical and exciting troupes working today as well as being an extraordinarily beautiful to watch," said Jonathan Secor, MASS MoCA's director of performing arts. Ella Baff, Jacob's Pillow Executive Director and MASS MoCA Board member, adds: "At MASS MoCA, we can present dance in the context of the visual arts and develop new audiences throughout the region. The Interventionists exhibit is also a perfect opportunity to bring a major dance company and choreographer who is known for challenging the status quo. It seemed an ideal match for dance at MASS MoCA and our continuing partnership." Flannery O'Connor's The Artificial Nigger tells the story of a man who takes his grandson from rural Georgia to visit Atlanta, and warns him of the sinful practices in the city. The trip does not go as smoothly as the grandfather plans, but the two characters find redemption as they return to the train. In Bill T. Jones' new work, Reading, Mercy and The Artificial Nigger, two speakers read the story aloud as the dance progresses, to Daniel Bernard Roumain's haunting original score. The dance depicts and abstracts the events taking place in O'Connor's story, but differences between what is seen and what is heard begin to reveal insights into racial issues within the story. The two main characters are portrayed by a revolving cast of dancers, where the race and gender of the performer is often at odds with the white male protagonists of the story. Mercy 10 x 8 on a Circle is a companion piece that abstracts and reimagines dance passages from Reading, Mercy and The Artificial Nigger, set to Beethoven's 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C. In The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff wrote, "Both pieces are highly stimulating to mind and eye, often stunning in their visual imagery and, for all their formal polish, affecting in their emotional wallop." Continuous Replay is considered one of Arnie Zane's signature works, combining 45 hand and arm gestures that Mr. Zane performed as a solo in 1977. This new version, re-envisioned by Mr. Jones in 2003, begins with the company completely nude onstage. Throughout the course of the dance, the dancers each don clothing, ending completely dressed. Bill T. Jones, the recipient of the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, began his dance training at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. Before forming Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) in 1982, Mr. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane. In addition to creating more than 50 works for his own company, Mr. Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet. In 1995, Mr. Jones directed and performed in a collaborative work with Toni Morrison and Max Roach, Degga, at Alice Tully Hall, commissioned by Lincoln Center's Serious Fun Festival. His collaboration with Jessye Norman, How! Do! We! Do! premiered at New York's City Center in 1999 as part of Lincoln Center's Great Performers New Visions series. In opera, Mr. Jones has choreographed works for the Houston Grand Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and he conceived, co-directed, and choreographed Mother of Three Sons, which was performed at the Munich Biennale, New York City Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera. In theatre, he has co-directed Perfect Courage, and he directed Derek Walcott's Dream on Monkey Mountain. As an activist, Mr. Jones has been an outspoken advocate on issues of AIDS and race. To support an N.A.A.C.P. boycott protesting South Carolina's flying the Confederate Flag on top of the statehouse, Mr. Jones refused to perform at the Spoleto Festival. In addition to the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, Mr. Jones has received several other prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Creative Artists Public Service Award in Choreography, Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Awards, and the Dance Magazine Award. Alongside Jacob's Pillow, Mr. Jones was named one of America's "First 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures" by the Dance Heritage Coalition. ABOUT THE PILLOW: Located in the town of Becket, Massachusetts, internationally acclaimed Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival was originally a family farm in the 1700s and served as a station on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. Legendary dancer, teacher, and choreographer Ted Shawn established the Festival in 1933 as a showcase for his company of Men Dancers. The Pillow encompasses 162 acres and 30 buildings, including three stages, four dance studios, a restaurant, a pub, housing, Archives, and administrative offices. During the 10-week summer festival, the Pillow attracts thousands of visitors to see world-class dance on three stages and enjoy hundreds of free events, including performances, lectures, tours, film showings, exhibits, and talks with the artists. The Festival is augmented by The School at Jacob's Pillow, which draws a world-class international roster of students and faculty; the Archives, which are open to public access; an Intern Program, which trains arts administrators and theatre technicians for professional careers; support for artist development of new work with Creative Development Residencies; commissions and world premieres; and year-round Community Programs throughout the Berkshires. Jacob's Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, designated by the federal government as an exceptional cultural venue that holds value for all Americans. MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA juxtaposes a beautifully restored icon of the American industrial past with some of the liveliest, most evocative -- and provocative -- art being made today. Emphasizing art that charts new territory, art that ignores traditional boundaries between the performing and visual arts, and installations that are truly vast in scale and environmental in feeling, MASS MoCA has also received some of the nation's most coveted architectural and historic preservation honors. From Robert Wilson and Robert Lepage to rollicking dance parties and its crowd-pleasing "silent film/live music" series, MASS MoCA's astonishingly varied performing arts program has reshaped the cultural landscape of New England. MASS MoCA is also home to an innovative community of companies. Employing hundreds of people these tenant firms have helped position MASS MoCA as an important economic development catalyst for the entire region.
For Immediate Release