Eleven dance students from Loyola Marymount University attended a lecture by renowned dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones and then engaged in a private conversation with him on Sept. 21 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. The dancers will perform a dance he choreographed named “Spent Days out Yonder” in December at LMU’s dance concert.
“We just met a legend,” said Grace Goodwin, a junior dance and psychology major. “We have the chance to take what he shared with us and sculpt that into how we’re going to perform it. He’s already inspired me to think and move differently.”
During his lecture, Jones shared his story as an artist over the past 40 years and encouraged the students to develop the courage to create art, become leaders, and discover freedom in their bodies and in their movements. In the private conversation, the students asked questions about performing his dance, how to approach rehearsal and studio time, and what inspires him.
“He had conviction and I know he choreographs with that conviction,” said Rachel Rivera, a freshman dance and computer science major. “I want to add that into my own movement. I’m going to change the entire energy and quality of my dancing.”
The dance was choreographed in 2000 and is one of five pieces that are licensed to universities by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company to be learned and performed. It will be taught by Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo, assistant professor of dance. Loo is a former member of Jones’ dance company and one of the few former company members allowed to teach the choreography.
“Bill T. Jones is one of the most engaging, interesting and compelling choreographers of our time,” LeBlanc Loo said. “On the surface, this dance is strikingly beautiful, but it is very complicated technique-wise. I know the students will rise to the level of execution of this piece and interpret it artistically rather than just recreating steps.”
Jones, an artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, has received major honors from a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award to Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. Jones received a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed “FELA!” and a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in “Spring Awakening.”