In one of the highlights of the 2005 ADF, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company took the stage in Page Auditorium July 14 with a multi-faceted diamond of a piece, Another Evening (2005). The work, choreographed by Jones, will be repeated in performances on the 15th and 16th (see our calendar for details). Take heed, all ye who would combine dance, theater, spoken word, and diverse musical elements: The master is here to show you what a great multi-disciplinary artwork looks and sounds like, even if he does not reveal the secrets of making it so.
Another Evening defies description. It contains many elements and segments – but those words indicate discrete and discontinuous parts, which is wrong. The great thing about this work – about Bill T. Jones' work as an artist – is its holistic nature, its unfractured completeness. Jones takes what in lesser hands would be unrelated elements and makes their connections apparent to us, even as he revels in the ambiguities of his arrangements. Watching this work is like watching the ocean as it comes and goes: it is always a mystery, but we know it, at our cores.
Indeed, Another Evening ebbs and flows ceaselessly, like the ocean, every wave different in the greater sameness. Some of the dancers may be still at any moment, but the movement on stage never stops. Images and ideas wash over you, and once you stop struggling to understand, you float among them, buoyed by the internal logic.
Among the things tossing in the sea where we float: the artistic imperative... and its possible relation to the imperializing impulse; the freedom to move and the blessing of strong legs... and a torture practice in an unnamed place that might be Guantanamo, in which strong legs are painfully disabled by sharp blows just above the knee; faith... and hellfire religion.... And so on. Many things and their opposites – or, if not opposites, their inverses or converses, their doppelgangers or perversions – or simply the difference in things at ebb and things at flood, in age or in youth. There are disturbing and dark moments, but beyond them shine the authority and awe that come from faith, hope, and love. We are awash in a disinterested love that comes from the deep, accepting wisdom embodied in Another Evening.
The extraordinary impact of this mature work from a mature artist (Bill T. Jones will receive the Scripps Award for lifetime achievement in modern dance on the 17th) comes not only from its gleaming intelligence and its choreography but also from the beautiful work of the company's very fine dancers (Leah Cox is especially stunning), the collaborating musician, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and the costume and lighting designers. Production values are very high, and dance and music standards are off the charts. Roumain plays his violin fantastically, eliciting strange, high sounds drawn out fine as a hair; he mixes his own compositions with recorded music and sound, and the resulting aural tapestry amplifies our sense of ocean overwash. But despite all the interesting texts, the songs, and the theatricality, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is about dancing, and these dancers are among the most direct and least affected you will ever see. From opening headstand to closing headstand, clothed or nude, they dive into the heart of the work, pulling us with them through wave after wave of change.
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company continues its run at the ADF through 7/16. See our calendar for details.