January 13, 2012

Bill T. Jones, dancer, choreographer, director and writer

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University is hosting a series of events that highlight the achievements of Bill T. Jones, a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer.

"An Evening with Bill T. Jones" begins at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, in the Harvey Powers Theatre in Coleman Hall. Jones will share his candid observations about directing, choreography and the life of an artist.

Jones is the recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' Award in 1994, two Tony Awards for Best Choreography and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

"The event — and Jones himself — perfectly illustrate the interplay of the arts, business, creativity and social concerns that make up pursuits in the liberal arts," said Carmen Gillespie, professor of English and University Arts Coordinator at Bucknell.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, the Presidential Arts Initiative, and the Department of Theatre and Dance as well as the Association for the Arts and the Office of the Provost.

"Dance aside, Bill T. Jones is one of the most poignant speakers I have ever had the honor of hearing," said Kelly Knox, associate professor of dance at Bucknell.

"His works and his words cut acutely and poetically to the real issues that confront our society. His choreography delves into territory where words alone are not adequate to convey the tumultuous nature of existence, but just to hear him speak is to have your mind and heart blown open," she said.

Award-winning artist
Born in rural Florida and raised in upstate New York, Jones trained in classical ballet and modern dance at the State University of New York, Binghamton. In 1982, with his late companion, Arnie Zane (1948-88), he cofounded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world. The Company has performed worldwide in more than 200 cities in 30 countries on every  major continent.

Jones has created more than 140 works for his own company as well as for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet and AXIS Dance Company. His awards and honors include several New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards, Izzie Awards, and choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He also received the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize given for "outstanding contributions to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life."

Autobiography and documentary
Gillespie, who is director of the Griot Institute, also is leading a reading group for Jones' 1997 autobiography, Last Night on Earth, which chronicles his early life, the evolution of his art, and his professional and personal collaboration with Arnie Zane, who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1988. The reading group will meet Tuesday, Jan. 31, at noon in the Traditional Reading Room of the Bertrand Library.

In related programming, the American Masters documentary "A Good Man" will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at the  Campus Theatre in Lewisburg. The 90-minute film chronicles Jones' creative journey as he leads the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in the creation of "Fondly Do We Hope ... Fervently Do We Pray," an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial. Admission to the film is $2 per person at the door.

For more information about these events, visit www.bucknell.edu/BillTJones.xml

Dance Performance
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform "Body Against Body" on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. "Body Against Body" returns to Jones' roots in the avant-garde with a program that revives and reconsiders the challenging, groundbreaking works that launched him and the late Arnie Zane, his partner and collaborator of 17 years.

Tickets are $25 for the Feb. 11 performance. Discounts for senior citizens and students are available. Advance tickets can be charged at www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice or by calling 570-577-1000.

Advance tickets are available in person from several locations including the Weis Center lobby weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore in Lewisburg weekdays and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 12:30 to 4 p.m.; and the CAPS Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center, weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets also may be purchased one hour prior to each performance.

Contact: Division of Communications