Celebrated choreographer Bill T. Jones gave the inaugural Arts Address at UVA last night, speaking to the students, academics and community members that packed Cabell Hall about his latest project, a consideration of Abraham Lincoln, and about the nature of art and collaboration, in general. On making art and specifically on his week-long residency at UVA during which he’ll develop material for the Lincoln piece, he said, "I don’t know what I’m doing." Art is not science, he said, nor is it religion. Its realm is uncertainty. His extemporaneous comments traversed a wide field of ideas and references, from Michaelangelo and Raphael to Sen. Jesse Helms, Thomas Friedman and Young Jeezy. He spoke freely of the doubts that plague an artist and his own search to draw connections between the most personal and mundane of details and the forces of history and culture. Of his Lincoln piece, "Fondly do we Hope–Fervently do we Pray," he reflected on the new puzzle he faces as the country has just elected a black man to the highest office in the land. He urged the students against letting the idea of hope "become a brand." UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Beth Turner draped a UVA baseball jacket on Jones when he concluded his thoughtful, eloquent comments. The crowd answered with enthusiastic applause.
Bill T. Jones will be in town and on campus all week, culminating with a performance of "100 Migrations" on UVA’s South Lawn on Saturday at 4pm. On Thursday, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will give a free lecture demonstration at The Paramount Theater at 12:30pm.