The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company creates matchless dance shows illustrating the unlimited styles of movement and non-narrative structure. The show “Body Against Body” continues its tour with a unique performance Tuesday tonight. Directed by two-time Tony Award winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, the performance showcases a physically and conceptually rigorous selection of original and exclusive duo dance routines for the Tempe audience.
The State Press contacted Janet Wong, the show’s associate artistic director, to learn more about the company’s work and technique. After graduating from London’s Royal Ballet School, Wong performed with the Berlin Opera Ballet before joining Jones’s dance company in 1996.
The State Press: How have you seen the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company change and grow since you first joined? What is different about this dance company?
Janet Wong: We do a wide range of work and look deep inside to see the roots of every idea. Each dancer plays a special role in shaping the landscape and dynamic of the piece.
The company is constantly evolving and changing, and we pride ourselves in doing work that was completely different from the year before. There are pieces taken from Russian expressionism, visual arts, and they are all different from the pieces we did, say, in Tucson. The real question is what has remained the same since the company began.
SP: What is your personal favorite dance number?
JW: I don’t personally have a favorite. We are most excited about whatever current pieces we are working on! It is fun because of the constant changes in each performance. (American composer) John Cage believed anything can be formed with anything and that belief is reflected in the show’s distinctive order and sequences every night.
SP: Each dance seems to express a special meaning. What is the inspiration for each sequence?
JW: Well, John Cage was a mentor and inspiration for Jones’ story time pieces, but Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown inspired much of the choreography. Jones draws inspiration from everything at any given moment. He was one of 13 children, so his background also plays a huge role in his work. Jones and Arnie Zane won the Berlin Critics Award for their duet dance number about the Berlin Wall, revealing the racial structure of America.
SP: Since the pieces are completely different with every performance, how much freedom is given to the dancers?
JW: The dancers have some freedom with entering the stage, but most of it is choreography. They don’t know the sequence until the afternoon of that specific show. Dancers must be aware of their surroundings and what objects are on stage.
“Body Against Body” will be playing at the ASU Galvin Playhouse on Mar. 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $10 for students.
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