Sunday, October 10, 2004

Jones/Zane troupe will
dance a short story

By Kathy Valin
Enquirer contributor

What: Contemporary Dance Theater season-opener, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in The Phantom Project.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday

Where: Aronoff Center, Jarson-Kaplan Theater, 650 Walnut St., downtown

Tickets: $17-$27. (513) 621-2787 or

Also: Jones speaks noon Thursday at the Main Public Library, 800 Vine St., downtown. (513) 369-6955.

Avant garde. Abstract. Athletic. Theatrical. Controversial.

Poignant. All apply to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Though Zane died of AIDS complications in 1988, his spirit lives on.

In Cincinnati, four works will trace the 20-year evolution of the two collaborators.

We sat down for five questions with Jones, whose troupe uses everything from classical dance and Beethoven to contact improvisation and spoken text.

What has remained consistent about your style over 20 years?

The duets in one of the pieces we are presenting in Cincinnati, "Reading, Mercy and The Artificial Nigger," are reminiscent of early work Arnie and I did, which took advantage of the difference in our size. I'm 6 feet 1 inch; he was 5 feet 4 inches. (The work is set to a Flannery O'Connor short story about segregation.)

Will audiences find any clues to what your dance is about if they read the O'Connor story?

O'Connor is very dark in her humor and she's got a fierce intelligence. I think they would enjoy the choices we made with the story that much more if they were familiar with it. But I don't want to make them anxious about what they don't know. I think it's quite legible.

How do you handle reconstructions of older works?

Video has been invaluable to me. Muscle memory can be a miraculous gift, but it's not to be trusted without verification.

For a dancer and choreographer, are there any compensations to getting older?

You have emotional and intellectual resources that you couldn't have in your 20s. You have to learn to do more with less. And you know yourself better.

You aren't dancing. Will you be on stage to take questions?

Oh, yes. I'll be there.

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