The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is back at ASU Gammage after 10 years to perform Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray on Saturday, March 5. This piece was commissioned by the Ravinia Festival for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I think the work will look very handsome on the generous stage of Gammage. The title of the piece is a quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural address and I think it is particularly timely as our government threatens to shut down - it challenges the viewer and makes one wonder if we can ever find the “we”.
But onstage, in our community, WE are a company of 10 dancers, 4 musicians and an actor supported by an amazing technical crew, doing something that is essential to us. And WE love the warm weather of Arizona!
This performance falls in the middle of a ten day residency at ASU where we begin working on a new piece tentatively titled Story/Time. This visit also marks the beginning of a three-year relationship with ASU. It takes very brave presenters like Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Michael Reed to embark on such a journey into the wilderness with us. I must admit that this new work has many challenges - even I am overwhelmed.
For example, our very first rehearsal for this piece is not in a dance studio but in a TV studio in downtown Phoenix. And Colleen and Michael are making this happen for us, whereas others may have balked at the request. Bill wanted a different way of entering this new work, and working in an environment with multiple cameras and a director forces us to do that. Without giving too much away, this work takes its inspiration from John Cage’s “Indeterminacy”. The piece includes Bill writing and reading 90 one-minute stories, one-minute dance activities, one-minute pedestrian/elemental activities, the division of space, the distribution of furniture items, the transformation of space, the camera's perspective, and social media. The positioning of the performative elements are determined by chance, each perhaps having its own score. This process is in part a way for Bill to escape his persona and taste. This residency is the beginning of our experiment -- and what a luxury it is to be able to experiment!
- Janet Wong, Assistant Artistic Director