Beautiful sitting ducks
Beaver Creek – Bill T. Jones is on a collision course with popular stereotypes, and he has no intention of copping easy answers. The co-founder of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, a multi-media dance troupe, brings “Blind Date” to the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Sunday at 7:30 p.m.”Blind Date” is a movement-based piece that explores honor, patriotism, sacrifice and service to a cause. The work blends modern dance, social and political commentary, classical and folk songs, and projected images to engage the audience and each other in an implied dialogue.”Dance is powerful because it’s a visual art form that’s entirely body-based,” Bjorn G. Amelan, creative director and set designer for the company, said. “A body – it’s something we all share, so we can all relate to it.”The lithe and finely muscled bodies of Jones and his 10 dancers spin and leap their way to 18th Century Enlightenment ideals while the musical score references such diverse compositions as Johann Sebastian Bach, Otis Redding, Tuareg throat singing and the Mexican national anthem. The work is a series of vignettes produced in a collaborative effort between Jones and the company members. Personal reminisces, imaginings, theology and literature are the jumping-off point for the sometimes agitated, sometimes fluid, movement that continuously fills the stage. As Gina Bellafante wrote in The New York Times, the impetus for “Blind Date” was a speech Jones heard in Germany in 2004.”The speaker warned that terms like honor and valor had been cheapened, empties and recast as purely anachronistic,” she wrote. “The speech resonated with Mr. Jones, he said, at a time when he had been trying to understand what patriotism meant in early 21st-century America.”
Everybody has a homeland. Without a sense of place in the world, there’s floundering disconnection. But there are so many buzz words on every side of the political scene, it’s hard to get at actual meanings. Watching the fallout of the United States’ involvement in other countries, both with and without their consent, it’s clear that to march American policies across foreign landscapes can be a self-referential folly. When the US government makes a choice that its citizens disapprove of, should Americans renounce their country? Is patriotism inherently evil?”I think nothing is inherent,” Amelan said.He cited the moon, also called the crescent, as an example. For Turkish nomads, it was a thing of great beauty and significance. Not only did they sing songs about and to the moon, but the crescent holds a prominent place on the Turkish flag. “So it’s a positive symbol of beauty,” Amelan said. But it’s also the name of a deadly war technique. Troops pull back in the center and fan out in a fatal embrace from the sides, creating a killing crescent.
“So there’s the duality of the positive and negative,” he explained. “This is not a soapbox, but an exploration of complexity and ambivalence. It’s a despair of toxic certainty. This piece doesn’t give a clear one-sided argument for or against, but it addresses complexity.””Blind Date” is not for the faint of heart. No art that lashes out against war, human cruelty and religious intolerance ever is. Bloody ducks, larger than life, are part of the jarring landscape the troupe inhabits for the space of the 90-minute show.The dancers are joined on stage by music director, violinist, pianist and laptop artist Daniel Bernard Roumain, violinist Nurit Pacht, actor Andrea Smith, performance artist and multi-instrumentalist Akim “Funk” Buddha and sitarist/vocalist Neel Murgai. Large video screens help shape the space.”Peter Nigrini has filmed our dancers, so you will see Charles Scott at the top of the stage, doing gestures and movement, and on the screen he’s performing his own gestures,” Amelan said. “So you see him closer, and it bridges the gap between the audience and the stage.”During the whirling and swirling, several dancers perform vocally. Wen-Chung Lin explores his heritage and feelings through a Taiwanese poem, while Asli Bulbul reminisces about a childhood spent in Turkey. The multi-national troupe channels diversity to achieve common ground.”There’s a multitude of things happening on stage,” explained Amelan. “It’s OK not so see everything. People should treat it like a landscape. Every moment you focus, and you take in what you take in. It’s a very enjoyable graphic dance that explores questions more than answers. It’s a beautiful evening.”
Jones described it a little differently in the “Making of ‘Blind Date'” video:”I hope people leave feeling encouraged, maybe thoughtful, and up to the task,” said Jones. “I hope these youthful bodies will inspire and encourage other bodies.”Thoroughly modernWhat: “Blind Date” by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance CompanyWhen: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Vilar Center, Beaver CreekInformation: Call 845-TIXSVail, Colorado
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