There is perhaps nothing more poignant, more powerful, or more attuned to the shifting gears of the human soul than the practice of storytelling. Acclaimed choreographer Bill T. Jones seizes on this notion in his newest production “Story/Time,” bravely electing for an arc-less structure, opting instead to choreograph a string of one-minute vignettes with no determinable order or thematic tether.
Jones, whose accolades include two Tony Awards, the MacArthur “Genius” Award, and honorary doctorates from such universities as Columbia, Yale and Juilliard, remains seemingly restless in spite of his years of massive critical success. Hopping directly off of the musical circuit (choreographing “Spring Awakening” in 2007 and directing and co-creating 2009’s “Fela!”) he eases his way back into the avant-garde style of his earlier years in “Story/Time.”
The dance typhoon’s primary inspiration for the piece is musician and theorist John Cage’s seminal “Indeterminacy,” in which Cage recites 90 one-minute stories from his life to the tune of a colleague’s piano. He took the formal structure of the piece from Cage, choreographing a series of 70 one-minute dances, accompanied by life stories narrated by Jones himself, some related to the topics at hand in the brief narrations, and many not.
Jones has spoken openly about the perceived risks associated with this departure from more linear modes of storytelling, making this piece an important turning point for the artist, whose portfolio’s trajectory boasts a theme of consistent evolution. In “Story/Time,” Jones structures his company’s movement, music and his own narrations on chance, constructing a production layered in uncertainty and edged in possibility.
The Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company will be performing the 70 minute-long “Story/Time” to the live music of composer and performer Ted Coffey.
Take a chance on this performance genius in his most recently evolved niche. To be blunt: Bill T. Jones productions are pretty much always worthwhile, a sentiment almost as constantly reiterated as it is fiercely protected in the dance world. At the very least, get your latest injection of culture a la modern dance. Nothing screams trendy like the avant-garde performed in sweatpants.
“Story/Time” is playing at Zellerbach Hall February 24th and February 25th and student tickets are on sale for 30 dollars online or at the Zellerbach ticket office.