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Fondly Do We Hope: Choreographer Bill T. Jones

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company brings Jones' Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray to Bloomington. The tribute in dance to Abraham Lincoln was co-commissioned by the Ravinia Festival, IU Auditorium and New York's Lincoln Center.

A Talk With Bill T. Jones

Choreographer, director, Tony Award and MacArthur Grant winner Bill T. Jones speaks in long, eloquent, thoughtful and thought-provoking sentences that resist transcription. The following are all his words, but to listen to him speak is an experience above and beyond reading.

The words in the piece come from Shakespeare, the Hebrew Bible, Walt Whitman and Lincoln himself. "I went to myself [first], and then looked for words to help me express what I was thinking and feeling about the man. This is not really a story. My job is to make a poetic and free depiction of how I feel or how I understand the issues that Lincoln represents playing out today."

Coupling Abstraction With Language

"I'm not making a biopic. I'm trying to include all that I have understood about what dance can be with questions about what dance can do. [I've taken] the abstraction that people associate with dance and coupled it with hard-nosed, official language. In Lincoln's mouth [that language] was quite soaring and poetic, but it was also the language of a politician and it was about policy positions. A lot in this piece is about those two worlds colliding, in the past and very much in the present."

A Post-Modern Tradition

"I come from the post-modern tradition. Our notion was that dance-making was about problem solving. In this one, [the problem] was: how do you bridge the immense distance, in terms of literal time and in [terms of] something more subtle than that, between this man and our time, between that era that he lived in, [which was] freighted with all sorts of political and emotional implications, and our own heavily freighted era."

The Role Of The Dancers

"Sometimes the dancers are the protagonists in both worlds. Sometimes they are just themselves. Sometimes they are an idea about the future. That is what dance promises if it is to be more than just a decorative thing. It is still a beautiful work and it packs an emotional wallop, but it gets there by other means. [It doesn't] fit comfortably into what we think dance should be."

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