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.

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