Sporadic, warped, yet extremely intriguing and danced beautifully the Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Story/Time, is a unique dance theater experience for everyone. The Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane dance company performed at The Vets in Providence, RI.
Bill T Jones and his company has shaped the evolution of dance through the creation and performance of more than 140 works in multiple venues of modern dance and theatrical dance. He has created award-winning choreography for the musicals like Spring Awakening on Broadway. He retired at 60 and decided to come back with the world premier Story/ Time.
The visual landscape of Story/ Time is defined by Bill T Jones sitting at a table center stage with a digital clock appearing behind him counting the minuets. It is based on Indeterminacy where Cage sits alone on a stage reading one-minuet stories.
There are nine dancers dressed in yoga pants, bright T-shirts, hoodies and printed dresses that orbit around Bill T Jones, and the ever-changing scenery. The dancers executed one-minuet choreographed pieces that invoked both ballet and modern techniques. There are duets and trios of dancers bending and swinging their arms, creating flowing lines parallel with their lunging legs. An exciting moment is when a dancer stands on another’s shoulders and falls backward into the group’s outstretched arms, which in flows into interesting partnering and lifts. Later in the work you see men and women rolling across the stage and they encounter a man and woman performing naked. The movement is constantly changing style, just like the story and the musical accompanying it.
The composer Ted plays a wide arrangement of music from playing both acoustic and electronic guitar, vocal samples loops and percussion. The music was generally warm and pleasing, which helped complement Bill T Jones voice. There was two sections however, that were deliberately loud that had you wishing you could mute the music. But after a long two minuets it quickly changes into a different section with a hammers sound banging on steel springs. The constant changing music and movement combine with the lighting produced a hypnotic atmosphere.
I thought the performance was great. It was sporadic yet intriguing all at the same time. Bill T Jones grabs your attention from the moment he steps foot on stage. Bill T Jones gets the audience involved by asking how long we think a min is and everyone is surprised to see how long a minuet really is from there he says “well you 70 more of those left” and then sits down to begin the performance. At first you find yourself trying to focus on either the movement or the story but it isn’t until you give up and just sit back and accept then do you get to enjoy the work. The only thing that was unpleasing is the back to back section with the over amplified music combined with the harsh bright back lighting that the dancers move across the stage slowly. If you thought a minuet was quick that will be one of the longest minuets of your life after it is over however, you will be relieved and can go back to enjoying the rest of the show. The work all feels like a dream in the end because there are 70 short stories you cant remember them all and when it is over you a just amazed with what happened and struggle with the fact that you only remember a few specific stories from the show like Bill T Jones talking about a conversation with his mother. Overall I think Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company performance of Story/ Time was dance beautifully and it is a must see. The show will always be slightly different with the fact that the order of the stories are read at random and left to chance. You will be in for a roller coaster ride with many twist and turns that will leave you breathless and wanting more.