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AADH Day 17 – “What is Black Dance?” and Bill T. Jones

AADH Day 17 – “What is Black Dance?” and Bill T. Jones

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AADH Day 17 – “What is Black Dance?” and Bill T. Jones

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  1. AADH Day 17 – “What is Black Dance?” and Bill T. Jones • “What is Black Dance?” • Bill T. Jones • Fish Story • Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land

  2. Intro - Labels in dance – Background • Labels serve a purpose – to market dance • To defining and position an artist • Historical or and cultural context • Postmodern, new dance, avant-garde • Audience not always aware of the entire history

  3. Postmodern era • Grew out of 60s, Cmerce Cunningham and Judson Church • Rebellion against classical modern dance of Graham, Humphrey, Limon, • Sixties about experimentation, black power movement -civil rights • Dancers seeking balance between the narrative and pure movement

  4. Postmodern Aesthetics • Assemblages of period or theatrical reference - comment on the present. Historically aware. • Second wave of postmoderns - people like Bill T. Jones, Ralph Lemon • Return to "theatrical and virtuosic performance. • Perform personal intimate

  5. Labels • Postmodern - separation from audience as necessary for performance event • Black artists desire to foster communication form and function united • New dance - political and social activism • 90’s popular terms - multicultural and diversity

  6. What is Black Dance? • Who defines the answer. • Term – black dance, obscure meaning – yet loaded with power • Echoes the question from 1930’s – “What shall the Negro Dance about?”

  7. What is Black Dance? Funding entities – for black dance – labels pigeon holes companies • Critics – lump choreographers together • Who does this term refer to? • Black Dance – a label critics use to summarize a richly diverse body of work

  8. What is Black Dance? • Responses to the Term • Insistence for the freedom to define culture on their own terms, likewise for their creative work. • Black choreographers feel their work is about life informed by their lives. Artists who happen to be black,

  9. What is Black Dance? • Lumping all Af- Am dance forms separates and diminishes their diversity • Issue now is artistic freedom “Cultural imperialism vs. cultural self-determination.” • A misconception – that ethnicity predetermines culture • Dialogue needed on this issue

  10. What is Black Dance? • How does this relate to identity. • What examples have we seen so far? • Whose perspective is being presented? • Bill T. Jones - What does black mean in western culture context?

  11. Focus on Bill T. Jones • Biography to Autobiographical material in dance • Born 1952 – tenth of twelve children • Grew up in upstate New York • Informed his understanding and confusion about race

  12. Aesthetic Choices - Methods • Talking in dance – postmodern aesthetic – telling his story • Formalism – pure gesture and line, recall opening day poem • Personal emotion – dares to show anger, express love • Pedestrian – blends technique with simplicity • Improvisation as a creative process • Contact Improvisation – especially in early duets with Arnie Zane

  13. Focus on Bill T. Jones - Issues of Identity

  14. Life and Art - blur the boundaries • Arnie Zane – lover and collaborator • Their duets exposed their relationship • Continent of two • Politics – personal, class and race – they drew directly on their own lives to understand their identity

  15. Life and Art - blur the boundaries

  16. Arnie Zane died in 1988 of AIDS • Fish Story – an earlier dance that explores death • Performed in 1980 in the context of Jones great loss of Zane. • Aesthetic choices, fractured language and dance blur, have to read both texts

  17. Arnie Zane died in 1988 of AIDSFish Story - 1990 Performance

  18. Other Dances • Untitled – expresses anger • Etude – pure design in space

  19. Untitled

  20. Etude

  21. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990) • About faith, History, Anger and Seeking Common Ground • Identity – who are we first, second and third.

  22. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  23. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  24. Bill T. Jones - Last Night of Earth • What does he say about history? • History has rules, one: identity forged by violence and deprivation will manifest violence and deprivation • Such rules must be broken, a conscious effort • Black people’s experience has helped to educate the human heart • History is a mirror in which to see himself

  25. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  26. How do you respond to his historical account? • More and more personal- history ultimately is what happens to you • What you do or do not do

  27. Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin • Uncle Tom’s Cabin – sketch of the story • Entre act Faith - on stage interview with a priest or rabbi on issues of faith • This follows Bill T. Jones dancing to the reading of Job, • Jones own tragic loss of his partner parallels Job’s loss • Yet Jones does not regain all back in the end through faith

  28. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  29. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  30. Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin • Was to acknowledge his division from his mother’s faith • Sixties naivete to go beyond anger, beyond division • With an African-American voice speak to a diverse audience, • Speak about being human, our lives, our dreams

  31. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  32. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  33. Four - The Promised Land • King’s speech backwards as an argument • Dance develops abstractly - people gradually disrobing • First Arthur Aviles has appeared alone as nude - by end everyone is. • Community and personal gutsiness to confront self-willing to expose self and join in community

  34. Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  35. Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Last Supper/The Promised Land (1990)

  36. Jones’ goal for LSUTC • Wanted to disavow an identity as a dying outcast, • Affirm our commonality through the body, “we are not afraid” • His company reflects the diversity of the audience he hopes to speak to, drew on real life identities of his cast

  37. Jones goals for LSUTC • Work addresses the disorientation, that he feels around issues of power, sex, race, religion, and art • Desire to blend political, social, spiritual issues with narrative and movement

  38. Jones goals for LSUTC • Work addresses the disorientation, that he feels around issues of power, sex, race, religion, and art • Desire to blend political, social, spiritual issues with narrative and movement