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Bill T. Jones
Bill T. Jones, photo by Robin Holland
December 25, 2009

Bill T. Jones's conversation with Bill Moyers about his reimagination of young Abraham Lincoln in FONDLY DO WE HOPE...FERVENTLY DO WE PRAY, is only the most recent in a series. In 1997 Bill Moyers and filmmaker David Grubin documented the creative process behind the piece STILL/HERE. In 2001, just 36 hours after the attacks of 9/11, Bill Moyers talked with Bill T. Jones among others about loss, grief, strength and hope. You can now view both these programs online through The Moyers Digital Archive.

Bill T. Jones, "STILL/HERE," 1997

Bill Moyers has had a long working relationship with Bill T.Jones. In this 1997 program, journalist Bill Moyers and filmmaker David Grubin give viewers a rare glimpse into dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones's highly acclaimed dance, "STILL/HERE." At workshops around the country, Jones asks people facing life-threatening illnesses to remember the highs and lows of their lives, and even imagine their own deaths. They then transform their feelings into expressive movement, which Jones incorporates into dance.

>You can watch the entire program in the Moyers Digital Archive.

The 11th of September — Bill Moyers in Conversation with Bill T. Jones and Julie Taymor

Two days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Bill Moyers began interviewing people about the significance of what had happened.

>You can watch the conversation in the Moyers Digital Archive.


BILL T. JONES (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer/Dancer) 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 Mr. Jones "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure." Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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, New York City Opera, and the Houston Grande Opera. He also directed Lost in the Stars for the Boston Lyric Opera. Mr. Jones' 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Jones' 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'--Solos, directed by Don Kent.

In 1995, Pantheon Books published Mr. Jones' 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. Mr. Jones is proud to have contributed to CONTINUOUS REPLAY: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ARNIE ZANE, published by MIT Press in 1999.

Bill T. 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.

Photo by Robin Holland.
Related Media:
Medical practitionersThe JOURNAL on History
Explore American history, from the long tradition of dissent to Lincoln's life in pop culture.

Katherine Newman, photo by Robin Holland Historian Eric Foner on "Our Lincoln"
As Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial birthday approaches, Bill Moyers sits down with historian and Lincoln biographer Eric Foner to discuss the legacy and the legend of America's most studied president. (February 6, 2009)

Katherine Newman, photo by Robin HollandMoyers on Lincoln
Bill Moyers reflects on the Lincoln legacy. "I had a history professor at the University of Texas - Robert Cotter - who believed the most remarkable quality of Abraham Lincoln was his empathy for people he didn't personally know. The working man. The soldier in battle. His widow and orphans." (February 6, 2009)

In this PBS special Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s quest to piece together Abraham Lincoln's complex life takes him from Illinois to Gettysburg to Washington, D.C., and face-to-face with people who live with Lincoln every day relic hunters, re-enactors, and others for whom the study of Lincoln is a passion. The Web site also includes maps of Lincoln sites in the U.S., a Lincoln knowledge quiz, and an interactive timeline.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln" premiered February 9, 2009. You can also view the entire show online.

References and Reading:

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
The Web site for the company features a blog from Bill T. Jones, a touring schedule, and information on the company's repertory.

"A Good Man" footage courtesy of Kartemquin Films, ITVS, AMERICAN MASTERS, Ravinia Festival and Media Process Group. "A Good Man" is a Co-production of American Masters, ITVS, Kartemquin Films, and Media Process Group in association with Ravinia Festival.

Also This Week:
BILL T. JONES: "Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray"
At the close of Lincoln's bicentennial year, Bill Moyers Journal takes a unique look at the 16th President. Moyers speaks with critically acclaimed choreographer Bill T. Jones about his creative process, his insights into Lincoln, and how dance can give us fresh perspective on America's most-studied president.

Find out more about Bill T. Jones and view previous collaborations between Bill Moyers and Bill T. Jones from The Moyers Digial Archive.

Acclaimed actor Sam Waterston and historian Harold Holzer explore Lincoln's legacy and legend in poetry and prose.

A selection of the entries from THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY, additional readings and Lincoln video and Web resources.

View a photo essay of America's number one icon.

View the top ten viewer favorites from 2009.
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