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Release: March 4, 1999

(NOTE TO EDITORS: The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company can be reached at 212-477-1850. The fax number is 212-777-5263. The company can also be reached by e-mail at <>.

Bill T. Jones presents 'We Set Out Early . . . Visibility Was Poor' March 25

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform Jones' new, concert-length work, "We Set Out Early . . . Visibility Was Poor," at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 25 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. Interested audience members will be invited to remain in the hall after the performance for a discussion with Jones.

Unlike Jones' ambitious and controversial topical works -- including "The Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land," which dealt with the stigmas of race, homosexuality and AIDS; and "Still/Here," which profiled the spirit of individuals living with life-threatening

illnesses -- "We Set Out Early . . . Visibility Was Poor" is an abstract journey which has been hailed as the vehicle for some his most beautiful and evocative movement.

Each of the work's three sections is set to the music of a single composer -- Igor Stravinsky, John Cage and Peteris Vasks -- and together they have been seen by some critics to suggest a mysterious, non-literal journey, perhaps the arc of Jones' personal struggles and triumphs, or the trek of multicultural America through the 20th century.

"We Set Out Early . . . Visibility Was Poor" was premiered in 1998 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and has since been the subject of high praise in both the United States and Europe.

Calling the work "a thing of beauty" and "a stunner," veteran dance critic Clive Barnes wrote, "Lithe, exquisite, athletic bodies hurl through space, and then evolve like sculpture. What a piece of work is man -- and woman!"

New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff called the work, "startling in its purity of vision and movement . . . 'We Set Out Early' evokes a vibrant kinetic response through images that are meditative or emotionally charged." Her Times colleague Jennifer Dunning wrote, "Mr. Jones, his set designer Bjorn G. Amelan, and the lighting designer, Robert Wierzel, have a grand vision, and they achieve it, in a time when many artists seem embarrassed by the idea of grandeur."

And Village Voice dance critic Deborah Jowitt described the piece as "a serene, beautifully constructed work through which float what might be images from a remembered life."

Founded as a multicultural dance company in 1982, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was the product of an 11-year collaboration between Jones and Zane. Quickly rising to the top ranks of contemporary dance companies, the ensemble has performed more than 50 works in 30 countries and is seen annually by audiences totaling 100,000. Jones continued the company's work after Zane died of AIDS in 1988.

The company's work has often been described as a fusion of dance and theater, and it has not been shy about tackling difficult, emotionally charged issues -- with an attitude combining sensitivity with confrontation.

Iowa has played a significant role in the creative life of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance company. The ensemble has been in residence both at the UI and at the Cedar Arts Forum in Waterloo/Cedar Falls.

Hancher Auditorium has presented the company numerous times and was a co-commissioner of both "The Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land" and "Still/Here," which was given its U.S. premiere in Hancher. "The Last Supper" won two Bessie Awards and was the subject of a BBC documentary. "Still/Here," which was based in part on workshops with Iowans facing life-threatening illnesses, was the subject of a PBS Bill Moyers special that was partially taped in Iowa City.

Jones' special creativity has been honored with a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the "genius grant," and he has also received the Dance Magazine Award, choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award and two Bessie Awards.

In addition to creating more than 50 works for his own company, he has been in demand as a choreographer for prominent dance and opera companies in the United States and Europe.

Corporate sponsor of the performance is the FREEDOM Group, Inc. through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for "We Set Out Early . . . Visibility Was Poor" are $28, $25 and $22. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $19. Half-price tickets are available for audience members 17 and younger.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. Learn more about Bill T. Jones at