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Bill T. JonesStory/Time: The Life of An Idea

Princeton University Press, 2014

by TAKIYAH AMIN on March 17, 2015

Bill T. Jones

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When does a dance become a book? How does choreography lend itself to the page? What discontents exist in theorizing performance that are best explored through the written word? And how does one distill the hours of embodied practice into 100 or so pages of a tightly packaged and beautifully rendered text? It was the opportunity of a lifetime to interview the incomparable Bill T. Jones, a mainstay in the landscape of American modern dance and contemporary performance. A true renaissance man, Jones will be familiar to listeners as a multi-talented artist who has shaped contemporary culture as a choreographer, dancer, theater director and author. Creator of over 140 dance works for his own company and numerous commissions for others, Jones is a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Genius Award (1994) and was recognized for his multiple achievements in 2010 at the Kennedy Center Honors. Today as Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, Jones leads this internationally recognized institution known for its commitment to innovative artistry and the presentation of creative work that is shaped by contemporary issues. His most recent book, Story/Time, The Life of An Idea (Princeton University Press, 2014) chronicles a series of multi-media lectures he delivered at the invitation of Princeton University as part of their Toni Morrison Lecture Series. The book is part text and part art object, including photos, and quotations from other artists, including Bill’s mentor, American composer John Cage. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the country’s highest honor for achievement in the arts, Jones crafted this book as a means by which to consider the challenges, demands, rewards and sacrifices that have shaped his career for the last three decades.


Wendy Oliver and Lindsay Guarino, eds.Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches

March 10, 2015

Contested and complicated histories create the best books. This is true for many volumes and is certainly so for Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches (University Press of Florida, 2014), a recent work edited by Wendy Oliver and Lindsay Guarino. Picking up where Marshall and Jean Stearns left off over two decades […]

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Sherrie TuckerDance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen

January 8, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Pop Music] Cultural memory of World War II frequently draws on swing music and the USO dance floor as symbols of how the country came together in support of the war effort. Frequently, the term “the Greatest Generation” is used to exemplify patriotism and self-sacrifice. Digging beyond nostalgic remembrances, Sherrie Tucker’s Dance Floor Democracy: The […]

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Rebecca RossenDancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance

September 13, 2014

How does an author craft a work that speaks across the boundaries of dance studies, Jewish studies and gender studies? What does it mean for dance to function as a site for probing complex questions of racial, ethnic and cultural identity? How do choreographers respond to the prompt, “make a Jewish dance?” What does all […]

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Caitlin McDonald and Barbara Sellers-Young, eds.Belly Dance Around the World: New Communities, Performance and Identity

March 19, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Anthropology] When you think about research that contributes to understanding others (or maybe even yourself more), dance is not often the first thought that comes to mind. But the collection of essays in Belly Dance Around the World: New Communities, Performance and Identity (McFarland, 2013) bring the expression of self through dance to life. […]

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Joshua LeggIntroduction to Modern Dance Techniques

August 27, 2013

I can still remember being an undergraduate student, going from dance class to dance class and working as hard as I could each day. In the midst of all of that sweat and hard work, I was often curious about the techniques I was required to study. Sure, we had courses in dance history – […]

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Alexis WilsonNot So Black and White

June 3, 2013

When I think of the name “Billy Wilson” certain things come to mind immediately. I think of his sparkling career as director and choreographer of “Bubbling Brown Sugar” on Broadway. I am still stunned by his ability to shift from Broadway and back again so readily into making master works for the concert dance stage […]

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Yaël Tamar LewinNight’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins

January 11, 2013

What does it mean for a contemporary scholar to be trusted with the unfinished autobiography of a dance legend? How does one ensure that the integrity of their research matches the depth of life experience embodied in their subject’s narrative? Who is best served by the sharing of the untold stories of those whose narratives […]

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Peggy and Murray SchwartzThe Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus

November 2, 2012

For some time now I’ve been in spaces with dancers and dance scholars who lament the amount of available research on some of the black luminaries in our field. Sometimes the need for a particular project is present for so long that its absence is taken for granted and treated as the norm. One of […]

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Brenda DIxon GottschildJoan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance

August 29, 2012

For the launch of the Dance Channel, I thought long and hard about what the first author interview would be. I felt that it was critically important that this channel begins with a rich conversation between myself and a well respected author whose contributions to dance scholarship were substantial.  It seemed to me that this […]

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