The residency of the University of Wyoming’s 2011-2012 Artists-in-Residence, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, culminates in December with a four-day tour of the evening-length dance concert, which includes a Dec. 10 stop at Central Wyoming College.
“Continuous Momentum: The Works of Bill T. Jones” begins at 7 p.m. in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theatre. The performance is free and open to all.
Performed by UW students, the concert features four pieces from the BTJ/AZ repertory, including “D-man in the Waters,” “Continuous Replay,” “Duet,” and “Power/Full.”
“The student performance of Bill T. Jones choreography is the highlight of the semester-long project with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane dance company Eminent Artist in Residence project. For the students to have the opportunity to learn about the choreography and perform it is a once in a lifetime opportunity – one that they will never forget,” said dance faculty member Margaret Wilson, who has facilitated the residency.
The pieces, which were reconstructed this fall at UW by BTJ/AZ teaching artists Catherine Cabeen and Nicole Smith, represent several different phases of the company’s work.
“The dancers become a part of living history – recreating works that were set in the 1970’s to early 1990’s,” said Wilson. “The dance world now is a different place than it was at that time, but the dancers validate those works, and the reasons why they were created, by performing them for 2011 audiences.”
The concert opens with “Power/Full” (1995/revised 2002), a piece originally devised as a rigorous formal movement study created by Jones for himself in 1995. The piece was recreated for a quintet, with the original solo banked by a group of dancers who shadow and reflect the soloist. The score is in two contrasting parts composed by Canadians John Oswald and Laurel MacDonald.
Following is “Continuous Replay,” (1977/revised 1991) a piece originally choreographed by Arnie Zane as the solo “Hand Dance” and as a duet by Zane and Jones, and later restaged by Jones as an ensemble work. Based on a sequence of 45 hand and arm gestures, the dance is a rational accumulation that serves as the ground for structured improvisation.
“Duet” (1995/revised 2002) explores the ideas of pure movement and abstraction. This unusually stark work from the Company repertory takes Jones’ most sophisticated movement to task and draws on the tension between, and the elegance inherit in, two people moving together in perfect unison.
The concert closes with one of the Company’s signature pieces, “D-Man in the Waters” (1989), an exhaustive pursuit of water as a metaphor, choreographed to the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s spirited Octet in E-flat Major. Named for Demian Acquavella, a New York dancer who died of AIDS at age 32, “D-Man in the Waters” is an uplifting and accessible celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit.
“Watching the dancers learn, rehearse and prepare these works for performance has been so very satisfying for the UW dance faculty, said Wilson. “Our students are well prepared to do this work with the training that they receive here, and the opportunity to perform the work of a master choreographer like Bill T. Jones is a validation of all of our efforts.”
“To have the time and supervision to invest into the works for this concert is a testament to the importance of the Eminent Artist-in-Residence program, and will be a challenging and joyous conclusion to the residency,” she added.