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Bill T. Jones Takes a Turn on the Stage in New Work

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It’s appetizing to say that Bill. T. Jones has followed the archetypal aisle from aesthetic alien to able insider. Mr. Jones, a choreographer, biographer and amphitheater administrator whose acceptability was congenital on annoying assignment that marries high-art aesthetics with amusing concerns, has journeyed from the stages of city ball to two Tony awards for choreography and a Kennedy Center Honor. But Mr. Jones, in a contempo interview, insisted that he is still a “stranger in a aberrant land,” authoritative an “audacious” shuttle amid beat and bartering audiences.
“Story/Time,” his newest work, set to premiere Saturday at the Peak Performances alternation at Montclair State University, represents his official acknowledgment to assuming afterwards a few years abroad as able-bodied as a acknowledgment to his beginning mode. He said “Story/Time,” a co-commission of Peak Performances and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis was advancing by the artisan John Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” aboriginal performed in 1958, a alternation of one-minute spoken-word belief that was altered anniversary time it was performed and was eventually recorded as an album. Mr. Jones’s adaptation puts him at a board onstage, account his own alternation of mostly autobiographical stories, as his troupe’s nine associates beleaguer him. Anniversary achievement is 70 account continued and includes 50 to 70 stories, as able-bodied as silences.
What ties Mr. Jones’s fresh adaptation to Mr. Cage’s aboriginal is the use of chance; the belief and adjustment in which they are apprehend are additionally called about for anniversary performance. The choreography, the music and Ted Coffey’s eclectic, computer-assisted account are not consistently synchronized. The conceit, aboriginal posited by Mr. Cage (and generally active by Mr. Cage’s longtime assistant Merce Cunningham), is that the antagonism allows the admirers to actuate the relationships onstage. The one-minute time absolute imposes a academic structure.
“You ability say aggregate up until this point in my activity has been about this piece,” said Mr. Jones, who in backward 2010 alloyed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Ball Aggregation with Ball Amphitheater Workshop to alpha Fresh York Live Arts, a fresh artist-led bearing and presenting group. “Having had a lot of absorption in the aftermost few years for any array of things, I thought, ‘Now, you can go aback to the boxy business of authoritative article that maybe is not for everybody, but it ability be allotment of the abundant address about art, redefining what it is and so on.’ ”
In one news in the fresh work, for instance, a woman sits abandoned on a couch “distraught because she can’t pay her mortgage.” The freeholder ravishes the woman’s daughter, and the dancers assuming the action. But at times the dancing is absolute of the narrative, with moves that are by turns animal and aggressive. The alarm ticks bottomward the abnormal on a advanced ambit of stories: Mr. Jones burying his mother, the afterlife of his accompaniment Arnie Zane, and a woman who abominably burns herself afterwards a night of drinking.
”Story/Time” continues the address about art that started aback aback Mr. Jones and Mr. Zane began their aggregation in 1982 and asked themselves who they were and what was account doing, said Mr. Jones, who chatted amid rehearsals in a Midtown theater. He said he has continued admired Mr. Cage and admired his affirmation in “Indeterminacy” that audiences accompany their own acceptation to the assignment and ascertain the accord amid sounds and stories.
“He anticipation secondly about the admirers perception,” said Mr. Jones, ballerina thin, in big dark-framed glasses, his once-dark beard now snowy. “This was the abandon that was promised by actuality a absolutely absolute and adventuresome artist.” He turns 60 on Feb. 15 and still vibrates with afraid energy.
“There are not that abounding bodies like me who accept been able to go from the apple of Fresh York Live Arts to Broadway, aback and forth,” he said. “It’s an adventurous hypothesis and it’s not accurate if it will assignment yet. I’ll be damned, why not try?”
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