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Release: Oct. 1, 1999

World premiere of 'The Breathing Show -- Bill T. Jones Solo' Oct. 23

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Bill T. Jones will take stock of his provocative career in the world premiere of "The Breathing Show -- Bill T. Jones Solo," at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Part of Hancher's Millennium Festival, the most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration in the United States, "The Breathing Show" will combine movement, film and spoken text as Bill T. Jones pauses to "take a breath" at a crossroads in his artistic career.

To preview the premiere, Jones will participate in a free panel discussion with local mid-career artists at 4 p.m. Oct. 22 at Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St. in Iowa City. The participants will include Ron Clark and Jody Hovland, the founders of Riverside Theatre.

Jones has rarely performed in recent years, working primarily as a choreographer and artistic director, and now he seeks fulfillment as a dancer. Jones stated intention for "The Breathing Show" is to revisit his roots as a dancer: He has described "The Breathing Show" as "taking a big step back, and going back to the time when I was 19 and a young dancer who wanted to fly."

The evening will be divided into three sections: 1) dance to music by Schubert, followed by an except from "Ghostcatching," a virtual dance installation in which Jones participated at Cooper Union in New York; 2) jazz dancing, with another film interlude; and 3) a combination of spoken text and movement, with new commissioned music.

Jones has forged one of the most celebrated and controversial careers in contemporary dance, often developing ambitious projects that unflinchingly confronted personal issues of race, faith, sexual orientation and disease.

In 1994 Jones was honored with a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," and among his many other honors are National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, "Bessie" Awards and the Dance Magazine Award. In 1995 he published the memoir "Last Night on Earth."

In addition to creating work for his own Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which he founded with his late partner, Jones has received commissions from modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet (to which he was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1994), and Berlin Opera Ballet.

Iowa has played a prominent role in Jones' creative life. Residencies at the Cedar Arts Forum in Waterloo/Cedar Falls and at the UI led to a series of Hancher commissions, including "The Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land" and "Still/Here."

"Still/Here," which addressed the challenges of living with terminal illness, was based on "survival workshops" conducted in Iowa City and several other locations around the country. The images and words of Iowans facing life-threatening illnesses played a prominent role in the production, which received its U.S. premiere in Hancher. The project was the subject of a PBS special by Bill Moyers, partially videotaped at the UI.

Hancher's season-spanning Millennium Festival features 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions receiving their world or American premieres in Hancher.

In addition to the "The Breathing Show," new works have been created -- or are being created -- by theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield and UI alumnus David Lang.

Performances of the commissioned works will be presented by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.

The commission of "The Breathing Show -- Bill T. Jones Solo" was supported by Gerald J. and Sandra G. Eskin, through the University of Iowa Foundation, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are $28, $26 and $23. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and Zone 3 tickets are available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays. 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.

The entire 1999-2000 Hancher season -- including the season-spanning Millennium Festival -- is detailed in a free brochure, "At This Moment," which is available from the Hancher administrative offices (319-335-1130) or the Hancher box office.

Learn more about the Bill T. Jones on the World Wide Web at <>. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, <>.