Dancing With a Star

Production of Serenade/The Proposition opens April 8;

Jones lectures April 2



By Barbara Melendez


TAMPA, Fla. (March 29, 2010) – While basking in the glow of a triumphant production of Fela! on Broadway, acclaimed director and choreographer Bill T. Jones is sharing his creative brilliance with dance students at the University of South Florida to present a full production of one of his most recent works, Serenade/The Proposition, at Theatre I in April. In addition, two free Talk of the Arts lectures will be presented in conjunction with the production, one with Jones and one with his long-time lighting director, USF alumnus Robert Wierzel.


“This is the first time the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company is setting an entire production on a university or college, perhaps one piece and smaller pieces, but not a full production,” said Ashleigh Gallant, College of The Arts communications and marketing director. “Furthermore, to have Bill T Jones himself come and direct is quite a big deal.”


The lecture Jones will present, "Participating in the World of Ideas: The How and Why in Making and Doing, " focuses on how he “strives to poeticize activism” through multidisciplinary creations – Serenade/The Proposition in particular. In a separate lecture, Jones’ lighting designer, USF Theatre graduate Wierzel, will speak about his many high-profile collaborations and his two-decades-long career with the Jones/Zane Dance Company. Their speaking engagements are part of the Talk of the Arts program, an annual lecture and performance series inaugurated in 2007 and funded by the USF College of The Arts.


The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, now in its 25th anniversary season is one of the world’s most renowned. Jones, a Tony- and Obie-award winning choreographer as well as a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius award" is known for his innovative, complex, multilayered productions. His 10-member company based in Harlem has performed worldwide – in concert halls, at universities and festivals – in over 200 cities in 30 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and the UK. Through the U.S. Information Agency, the dance company has performed in Eastern Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia. Annual audiences are estimated to range from 50,000 to 100,000.


Jones’ signature weaving of complex elements and big complex ideas holds true with Serenade/The Proposition which has many moving parts. The work was commissioned by New York’s Joyce Theatre last year.


Two months into rehearsals, Jones spent three days working with the dancers, actors and singers in Serenade and the experience has been memorable for the students.


Dancer Eric Williams said, “At first it was a little daunting. He (Jones) has a reputation for being intense, but he brought in a great flow and it was great to see his work with the actors. I learned a lot from that. He is a step beyond anybody I’ve ever met.”


Jones won the Tony and Obie Awards for his choreography of the 2006 musical “Spring Awakening” in addition to numerous other awards including the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the Harlem Renaissance Award; and the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize among others. The Dance Heritage Coalition named Jones "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure" in 2000.


Performances take place in Theatre I at 8 p.m., April. 8-10 and 14-17, with a 3 p.m. performance April 11. Tickets range from $8 to $15 and are available at (813) 974-2323 and www.arts.usf.edu. There will be a pre-show reception April 8 from 7 to 7:45 p.m. in USF’s Contemporary Art Museum, adjacent to the theater.


The two lectures are free and open to the public:


Participating in the World of Ideas: The How and Why in Making and Doing

April 2, 12:00 noon, Theatre 1


Working in Theatre Today: The Art of Collaboration

April 7, 12:00 noon, Theatre 1




The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.