Artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer – Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts
Date of Interview:
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Charlottesville, VA. - The University of Virginia
Bill T. Jones is a choreographer, dancer, director, writer and founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. He was born in 1952 to migrant farmworkers in rural Florida, and is one of twelve children. Raised in upstate New York, Jones attended the State University of New York at Binghamton where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam for a brief period, he returned to SUNY and became the co-founder of the American Dance Asylum. In 1971, Jones met his long-time partner Arnie Zane. Together they created new and innovative choreography, some of which featured openly gay material. In 1982 the pair founded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Company. Jones created over 140 works for this company alone.
Jones has collaborated with distinguished artists such as writer Toni Morrison, percussionist and composer Max Roach, and dramatic soprano Jessye Norman. Companies that have commissioned his work include the Houston Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and Boston Ballet. In 1994, he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and received Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.
Recognitions include numerous prestigious dance awards and seven honorary doctorates at some of the most distinguished universities in the country, including Yale University and the Juilliard School. The work Jones has done on Broadway has brought him two Tony Awards for Best Choreography.
In 2011, Bill T. Jones became Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts.