Bill T. Jones Shares His Passion for Life and Dance with LMU Audience

“Tonight, I’m trying to collect my memory of a life lived in a body,” said renowned choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, addressing a rapt audience of students, faculty, and visitors at Loyola Marymount University this October. Speaking on what it means to communicate through dance, Jones reminisced on his younger days when he recalled believing that dancing was the “truest thing you could do.” Jones, he experienced tremendous inner growth, that started through dance, and allowed him to “[be] loving and vulnerable as a black man.”

Jones is a two-time Tony-award winning choreographer, and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company. His partnership with LMU began in 2014, and provides dance students with access to numerous classes, discussions, and coaching with company members, including Jones himself. Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo, who is an assistant professor of dance at LMU, was a former member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, was instrumental in formalizing the relationship between LMU and Jones. She announced at the event that the partnership was recently renewed for four more years.

In 1982, Jones and his partner Arnie Zane started Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which discussed complex and contentious issues such as the AIDS epidemic and racism through its choreography and dance. After Zane died of AIDS in the late 1980s, the New York-based company went on to perform “D-Man in the Waters,” a piece that portrayed the realities of AIDS and the extreme mortality of it at the time.

Currently, Jones’ most recent work “Analogy Trilogy” is being performed at Royce Hall at UCLA. As part of his talk, Jones introduced “Analogy Trilogy” and explained the premise behind it. It is comprised of three parts, and explores the lives of a Holocaust survivor, a young man growing up in San Francisco, and a German man employed by a Jewish family in New York City.

Jones explained the first part of the trilogy, which received its inspiration from the true story of a Jewish woman named Dora living during the Holocaust and working in an internment camp. While researching the story, Jones asked Dora how everyone felt at the time of that mass tragedy, to which Dora replied that everyone was dazed. “Are we dazed now?” Jones asked the audience.

The second part of the trilogy explores Jones’ nephew Lance and his struggles growing up in San Francisco in the 1980s. After being accepted into a prestigious ballet school, Lance gave it all up to become a sex worker. After becoming involved in drugs and being sent to prison, Lance acquired the nickname “Pretty.” Jones calls this segment “Analogy Lance/Pretty, AKA the Escape Artist.”

The third segment is inspired by a novel called “The Emigrants,” by W.G. Sebald. The novel revolves around a German man named Ambros Adelwarth who is hired as help by a prominent New York Jewish family, the Solomons. Ambros is hired to assist to and watch Cosmo Solomon, the heir to the family. The story tells of their travels and assumed romantic relationship. Later in life, Cosmo is sent to a sanitarium, which Ambros also voluntarily checks into after Cosmo’s death.

Jones went on to explain how he is worried for the future, even just the next ten years and encouraged the audience to always keep exploring their emotions and passions, poignantly ending his talk with some open-ended questions, “How do you feel about the future? Are you demystified? Where’s your passion?”

Reporter Grace McCauley is a first-year journalism major.