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Bill T. Jones

Bill T. Jones

Bill T. Jones

Roles in Archive: Artist, Speaker

Bill T. Jones is the recipient of a 2007 Tony Award, 2007 Obie Award, and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening; the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the Harlem Renaissance Award; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award. In 2000, the Dance Heritage Coalition named Jones “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure.” Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), studying classical ballet and modern dance. He choreographed and performed worldwide as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982.

Creating more than 100 works for his own company, Jones has also choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Axis Dance Company, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Diversions Dance Company, among others. In 1995, 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.

In 1990, Jones choreographed Sir Michael Tippet’s New Year under the direction of Sir Peter Hall for the Houston Grand Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He conceived, co-directed, and choreographed Mother of Three Sons, which was performed at the Munich Biennale, the New York City Opera, and the Houston Grande Opera. He also directed Lost in the Stars for the Boston Lyric Opera. Jones’s theater involvement includes co-directing Perfect Courage with Rhodessa Jones for Festival 2000, in 1990. In 1994, he directed Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. In June 2006 Jones choreographed Spring Awakening, A New Musical with music by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik, directed by Michael Mayer. In 2008 he co-conceived, directed, and choreographed Fela!, a new musical with a book by Jim Lewis, which explores Fela Kuti’s controversial life as artist, political activist, and revolutionary musician.

Television credits include PBS’s “Great Performances” series (Fever Swamp and Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land) and “Alive from Off Center” (Untitled). Still/Here was co-directed for television by Bill T. Jones and Gretchen Bender. A PBS documentary on the making of Still/Here, by Bill Moyers and David Grubin, “Bill T. Jones: Still/Here with Bill Moyers,” premiered in 1997. The 1999 Blackside documentary I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African-American Arts, profiled Jones’s work. D-Man in the Waters is included in Free to Dance, a 2001 Emmy-winning documentary that chronicles modern dance’s African-American roots. In 2004, ARTE France and Bel Air Media produced Bill T. Jones’s Solos, directed by Don Kent.

In 1979, Jones was granted the Creative Artists Public Service Award in Choreography, and in 1980, 1981, and 1982, he was the recipient of Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Jones has been awarded several New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Awards for the 1986 Joyce Theater Season (along with Arnie Zane), as well as for D-Man in the Waters (1989 and 2001), The Table Project (2001) and The Breathing Show (2001). Jones, along with his collaborators Rhodessa Jones and Idris Ackamoor received an “Izzy” Award for Perfect Courage in 1990. In 2001, Jones received another “Izzy” for his work, Fantasy in C-Major, with Axis Dance Company. Jones was honored with the Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award for his innovative contributions to performing arts in 1991. In 1993, Jones was presented with the Dance Magazine Award. Jones has received honorary doctorates from the Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College, and was awarded the SUNY Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award.

In 1995, Pantheon Books published Jones’s memoirs, Last Night on Earth. In 1989, Station Hill Press published an in-depth look at the work of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Body Against Body: The Dance and Other Collaborations of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Hyperion Books published Dance, a children’s book written by Bill T. Jones and photographer Susan Kuklin, in 1998. Jones is proud to have contributed to Continuous Replay: The Photographs of Arnie Zane, published by MIT Press in 1999.

Jones’s interest in new media and digital technology has resulted in two collaborations with the team of Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar, and Mark Downey. The first, Ghostcatching—A Virtual Dance Installation (1999), was produced by and premiered at the Cooper Union in NY. The second, 22 (2004), was the result of a three-year development under the auspices of Arizona State University’s Institute for Studies In The Arts and Technology in Tempe, AZ, where it premiered.