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Meet the Masters: Bill T. Jones
(Dancer, choreographer, director; born Feb. 15, 1952, in Bunnell, Florida)
A multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, Bill T. Jones has received major honors ranging from a 1994 MacArthur Genius" Award to Tony Awards for his choreography on Broadway. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure" by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the new musical co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show's 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award. In 2010 Mr. Jones will receive the Kennedy Center Honor. Before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) in 1982, Mr. Jones choreographed and performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and duet company with his late partner, Arnie Zane. He began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973.
In addition to creating more than 140 works for his own company, Mr. Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet, 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. He has also received numerous awards for his work and contribution to dance, amongst them and most recently the 2010 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award. In 1980, 1981 and 1982, Mr. Jones was the recipient of Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1979 he was granted the Creative Artists Public Service Award in Choreography.
Bill T. Jones's interest in new media and digital technology has resulted in collaborations with the team of Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie, now known as OpenEnded Group. The collaborations include After Ghostcatching - the 10th Anniversary re-imagining of Ghostcatching (2010, SITE Sante Fe Eighth International Biennial); 22 (2004, Arizona State University's Institute for Studies In The Arts and Technology, Tempe, AZ); and Ghostcatching - A Virtual Dance Installation (1999, Cooper Union, New York, NY).
Mr. Jones has received honorary doctorates from Yale University, Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, Skidmore College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College and the State University of New York at Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award, where he began his dance training with studies in classical ballet and modern dance. His memoir Last Night on Earth was published in 1995 by Pantheon Books.