The limitless and ever prolific Bill T. Jones will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday night, discussing three decades of performance work as a choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer. He is a force in person: not only engaging in conversations critically, he seems to actively think through questions in a way that feels quite generous. The level of engagement is high, as is the and the energy level.
As a guest of the BAM Iconic Artist Talk series, Jones will specifically reference the work he has presented at BAM. During the discussion, projections will be used to note specific works. These talks at BAM provide a rare, intimate setting, giving the audience a chance to ask questions formally but also creating an environment where the group as a whole continues to engage and mingle long after the event has ended. It is one of the few, true, Brooklyn salons.
Oftentimes BAM will provide free (for same-day ticket holders) post-show Artist Talks, using the performance experience as the discussion’s springboard. Great for a recap and a few questions, the talk usually takes place right on stage, still maintaining a bit of the performer/audience divide and, oftentimes, showing some post-show fatigue. These talks are meant to be relatively cursory; many venues hold these types of moderated discussions with performers after a show. However, few venues treat the discussion with an artist as an event itself, giving full credit, time and attention to an artist reflecting on his work. The BAM talk series is just that, creating an atmosphere of philosophical engagement and community thinking. A few months ago, Cornel West mingled for almost an hour after moderating a BAMcafe talk, diving into discussions and wine.
If you aren’t familiar with Bill T. Jones as a contemporary dance artist, you should know his choreography for Broadway’s Fela! and Spring Awakening, and most recently, his takeover of the Chelsea arts organization New York Live Arts. Jones merged his own company with the former Dance Theater Workshop, hopefully providing a strong foundation for his continued work producing and presenting dance and movement-based artists around the country. Jones is a master of honoring the past, as evidenced with his work on historical figures such as Fela Kuti and Abraham Lincoln, but it’s always in service of some kind of revolution, a call to activate ideas in a new way.
The talk starts at 7pm, but get there about 20 minutes early, as people line up for the best seats.