The Body Against Body Program is an intimate and focused collection of duet works drawn from the Company’s 30 year history. Bill T. Jones returns to his roots in the avant-garde with a program that revives and reconsiders the challenging, groundbreaking works that launched Jones and the late Arnie Zane, his partner and collaborator of 17 years. Still some of the most significant examples of the postmodern aesthetic, these pieces redefined the duet form and changed the face of American dance. Both conceptually and physically rigorous, the works take on new life through the diverse dancers of Jones’s company, providing a rare look at the origins of a widely acclaimed choreographer.
Programs include 2-3 works from the Company’s repertory:
Blauvelt Mountain (A Fiction) (1980, reconstructed 2002)
One of the first duets that Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane created together, Blauvelt Mountain capitalizes on the disparities and specificities between distinct body types, often placing one person in a position of dependency. Eccentric and occasionally humorous tableaux, casual conversations, and word associations are paired with rigorous partnering sequences to suggest the mental and emotional engagement, heightened awareness, and intimacy necessary for successful partnering.
Duet x 2 (1982, reconstructed 2003)
The virtuosity of Duet x 2 is rooted in conventional modern dance vocabulary and marked by demanding athletics, surprising shapes and changing relationships. The work underlines the power and emotion that is experienced when two bodies walk, stand, support and crash through space at full throttle.
Monkey Run Road (1979, reconstructed 2011)
The earliest of the Body Against Body duets, Monkey Run Road reveals the early dance-making concerns of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. Traces of the duo’s background in jiu-jitsu, social dancing, photography, and contact improvisation are readily seen in the piece, where repetitive, athletic phrases are punctuated by minimalist tasks and fragments of dialogue.
Valley Cottage: A Study (1980/1981, reconstructed 2011)
A new reconstruction for 2011, Valley Cottage is a duet that has not been seen since its original performances in the early ‘80s. The reconstruction draws upon the personalities and relationships of the company’s dancers in place of the original spoken text by Jones and Zane.
For two dancers in perfect unison, this piece’s coolly sophisticated movement reflects Jones’s work with Trisha Brown. The precise and challenging choreography is accompanied by John Oswald’s frenetic 1975 “plunderphonic” track Power, combining rock guitars with the exhortations of an evangelist preacher. The final section is set to Daniel Bernard Roumain’s imagined conversation between titans of the mid-twentieth century avant-garde and an aged African-American mother of twelve.
Shared Distance (1982, reconstructed 2014)
Created concurrently with the trilogy of defining duets made and performed by Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane: Monkey Run Road, Blauvelt Mountain and Valley Cottage. Originally made for Bill T. Jones and Julie West, this duet plays on the masculine and feminine and the reversal of these gender-specific roles.
Just You (1993, reconstructed 2014)
Originally titled It Takes Two, Just You was created by Bill T. Jones in 1989 for the duet company of Steven Koester and Terry Creach, who were craving something informed by these pivotal duets between Jones and Zane. The work was revived in 1993 for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, where the name changed to Just You. Here the original idiosyncratic, formalist concerns were placed at the service of a more theatrical, poetic purpose, made all the more poignant by its being danced to the delicious interpretation of standards by Ray Charles and Betty Carter.