Sunday, June 8, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is a dancer and avant-garde choreographer who has created masterpieces about race, sexuality, life and loss. A Tony Award winner, he is known for his extraordinary ability to translate human emotion and experience into the language of dance and theater. Today's Out Spotlight is Bill T. Jones

The 10th of 12 children, William Tass Jones was born in Florida, February 15, 1952, the son of migrant farm workers, and raised in Wayland, New York. As one of the only African Americans at his public school, Jones believes the experience of living by white norms at school and black norms at home encouraged his self-expression.

Jones attended the State University of New York, where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. It was there that he met his lover of 17 years, Arnie Zane. The two danced and choreographed together. As an openly gay interracial couple they pushed the envelope and challenged their audiences’ preconceived notions about gender, race and sexuality. In 1982, they cofounded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

In 1986, Zane was diagnosed with AIDS, which claimed his life two years later. Watching his life partner die gave Jones a new sense of passion and urgency.

In his 1994 piece "Still/Here," Jones took the experiences of people living with life-threatening illnesses and transformed them into a beautiful piece about life and confronting death. HIV-positive himself, Jones wanted to teach those living under the constant threat of death how to express themselves through movement. His work also draws from existing material. His piece "Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land" was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel.

Jones has won many accolades and awards, including a Tony Award, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Harlem Renaissance Award. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Dance. He is the recipient of five honorary doctorates.

Jones continues to dance and choreograph for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

 "Living and dying is not the big issue. The big issue is what you’re going to do with your time while you are here."


prairiegirl said...

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

-- Cecil F. Alexander

I join everyone in extending my deepest sympathy to Tom on the loss of Maggie. This was indeed the saddest of news to learn today and I lift up a little prayer for his girl. ((Tom)) and ((Maggie xoxo))

♫ Some day we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me ♪♫
-- Paul Williams & Kenneth Ascher

Florida Tom said...

Thanks everyone. My heart is aching so bad. The house sure feels empty. For such a little thing Mag always brightened this place up. She feels better tonight though. I know it.

Florida Tom said...

Sleep well tonight little girl.

prairiegirl said...

Love the avatar, Tom. I remember you talking about taking her to the beauty parlor.

Hey buddy...I like your motto on your blog page - Out and Famous. I want your autograph. :-)

Special K said...

Maggie is play with Tink again. And remembering when they were on OMG.

Twicked exposed


Florida Tom said...

Geez had so much fun that weekend with Wicked. Wow Mag and Tink both passing within a couple weeks.

the real m said...

Tom, so sorry to hear about your loss. Pets bring us so much pleasure and love. My thoughts are with you.

DC Forum newsletter talked up a new movie just released to video. A German film, Free Fall, translated to English. Too hot to sleep last night so I rented it and must say it was really good. Reminiscent of Brokeback- well acted, two men who work together fall in love. Like Brokeback I totally forgot the actors and saw only the characters. I almost watched it a second time but it was getting too late.

destiny said...

I'm so so sorry about Maggie Tom. I know how much she meant to you, and how difficult it is to lose a doggy child like that.

destiny said...

I've seen Bill T. Jones company several times, nice to see him in the Spotlight.

Florida Tom said...

When you are sad and missing a little friend as soon as you hear that a Whitney Houston song is about to come on the radio turn the channel quickly :-(