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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 17, 2007

Bill T. Jones, Tony winner, returns to Hancher Nov. 6 with 'Blind Date'

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will return to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium to perform the acclaimed concert-length work "Blind Date" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. This will be Jones' first visit to the UI since he won the 2007 Tony Award for best choreography for his work on the Broadway production of "Spring Awakening."

The audience will be invited to remain after the performance for a discussion with the company.

Jones, one of the world's most provocative choreographers, says that "Blind Date" is an investigation into "what it means to be a world citizen," a work that uses movement, color, video and text to ask audiences "to maybe do a quick check of your own understanding of what makes you a free person."

Never one to shy away from big issues, Jones tackles the meaning of patriotism, honor, sacrifice and service to a cause larger than oneself in a world of polarization and conflict.

Originally intended to be a documentary of his 10-member company today, "Blind Date" contains personal stories from its international cast, gestural dance phrases reminiscent of a military boot camp, and an evocative and flexible environment of moveable screens designed by Jones' longtime collaborator Bjorn Amelan.

Projected on the screens are images designed by video artist Peter Nigrini that include text in multiple languages, people, places and things. The projected images interact with and enrich the live performance.

Music director/composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), who will have his own performance in Hancher on Nov. 9, has created a sound score for "Blind Date" that includes music ranging from J. S. Bach to Otis Redding, and even the Mexican national anthem.

The result is a multi-layered dance/theater experience that John Rockwell of the New York Times called "at once moving, sexy, funny, thoughtful, and sad . . . a milestone in Mr. Jones' long and complex career, and a source of both deeply considered drama and visceral dance excitement."

The two-decade-plus connection between Bill T. Jones and the UI Hancher Auditorium has produced some of the most acclaimed -- and controversial -- works in contemporary dance. In productions including "The Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land" and "Still/Here," Jones has confronted, fearlessly, head-on -- and even nakedly -- combustible issues including life-threatening illness, religious faith, homophobia and racism.

Most recently the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2003 with a Hancher co-commissioned world premiere, "Reading, Mercy and the Artificial Nigger," based on a short story by one of the most famous of UI Writers' Workshop alumni, Flannery O'Connor.

Jones presented two premieres during Hancher's 1999-2000 Millennium Festival, including his solo performance, "The Breathing Show," which he described in a developmental diary published in the New York Times. And in January 2002 he presented the world premiere of a groundbreaking collaboration with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, featuring works set to music by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich.

Many of Jones' visits to the UI have included public workshops, discussions and symposia.

Founded as a multicultural dance company in 1982, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company emerged during an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. It emerged onto the international scene with the world premiere of "Intuitive Momentum," a collaboration with legendary jazz drummer Max Roach at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Since then, the company's repertoire has enlarged to include more than 75 works that have been performed in more than 130 American cities and 30 countries. Audiences of approximately 100,000 annually see the company across the country and around the world.

Jones has been honored with a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the Dance Magazine Award, the Creative Artists Public Service Award in Choreography, several choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award, and two Bessie Awards. In 2000, The Dance Heritage Coalition named Jones "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure."

In addition to creating more than 50 works for his own company, Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Axis Dance Company, the Boston Ballet, the Lyon Opera Ballet, the Berkshire Ballet, the Berlin Opera Ballet and the Diversions Dance Company.

Jones' TV credits include "Fever Swamp," which was filmed for PBS's "Great Performances" series, and "Untitled" for "Alive from Off Center," which aired on PBS in 1989. In 1992, a documentary on Bill T. Jones' "Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land" was aired on "Dance in America" as part of PBS's "Great Performances" series. CBS Sunday Morning broadcast two features on Jones' work, and "Still/Here" was aired nationally and internationally.

The making of "Still/Here" was also the subject of a documentary by Bill Moyers entitled "Bill T. Jones: Still/Here with Bill Moyers" which included extensive footage from Iowa.

Jones' work was profiled in the Blackside documentary "I'll Make Me A World: A Century of African-American Arts," which aired in 1999. And his "D-Man in the Waters" is included in "Free to Dance," an Emmy award-winning documentary that chronicles modern dance's African-American roots, which premiered on PBS in 2001.

The "Blind Date" performance by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is supported by Richard and Mary Jo Stanley through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $45/42/38; UI student $40.50/15; senior citizen $40.50/37.80/34.20; youth $31.50/29.40/26.60.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered online 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),