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Though the Miami New Drama-commissioned “Queen of Basel” will have its official world premiere at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. next season, you don’t have to wait or travel to discover how playwright Hilary Bettis has reimagined August Strindberg’s controversial 1888 classic “Miss Julie.” With three powerful actors and a small audience sharing the stage space at Miami Beach’s Co..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, now 33, was named a MacArthur “genius” grant winner in 2016, the same year his play “Gloria” was chosen as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Earlier, his provocative, stylistically diverse, subversive plays “Appropriate” and “An Octoroon” (the latter was produced by Coral Gables’ Area Stage last fall) each won best new American play Obie Awards. ..

"The Other Mozart" is a suitcase play – one of those shows where a single actress can pack the entire contents that creates the setting – costume, wig, and props, and go anywhere in the world. It is the way Samantha Hoefer will arrive in Miami to present Sylvia Milo's one-woman play about Maria Anna Mozart, the not nearly as famous older sibling of that 18th century rock star Wolfgang Ama..

Early on in the Argentinean film “El Último Traje” (The Last Suit), which makes its U.S. theatrical debut this week, a deceptively quaint and humorous scene takes place between the film’s protagonist, 88-year-old Abraham Bursztein and his young granddaughter. The little girl refuses to join in a family photo with Abraham surrounded by his many grandchildren. When he cajoles and insists, ..

Gone are the days when filmmakers needed huge budgets, and major movie studios backing them with big bucks to get their films seen, according to two producers who spent decades in Los Angeles, and have now moved their base to Miami Beach. "From a creative standpoint, there are amazing opportunities for filmmakers today," says producer Kevin Chinoy, who, along with producing partner Frances..

Mark St. Germain has achieved ongoing success with small-cast plays involving historical figures in fictional scenarios, and South Florida has been as welcoming to his work as the rest of the country. St. Germain’s “Camping With Henry and Tom,” about a 1920s camping trip involving Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding, was produced in 1996 by New Theatre in Coral Gables..

Mexico City-based theater collective Teatro Ojo's works are constantly evolving. Nothing is ever really finished. That's because they take from every performance. Whatever the audience experiences, observes, feels, and offers feedback, which they highly encourage, all is used, considered, and included in the evolution of the same piece, or introduced into another new work. Two of the ..

“America’s Greatest and Least Known Playwright.”This is how the Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes is referred to several times throughout Michelle Memran’s documentary “The Rest I Make Up,” which makes its Florida debut this Saturday as part of Miami-Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. Fornes has been called the “Mother of Avant-Garde Theater.” Theater giants like Edward A..

“Once” has always been touched with magic. And as anyone who has seen the sublime new production of the show by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables would tell you, the musical’s spellbinding pull is as powerful as ever. When Irish director-screenwriter John Carney first told the tale of a heartbroken Irish street musician and the spunky Czech pianist who reignites his passion, a 200..

Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..

Bill T. Jones Combines Immersive Dance, Story-Telling as Part of Trilogy

Photo: Photo courtesy company management.
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Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance.

At age 65, choreographer Bill T. Jones speaks about dance with both intellectual curiosity and the confidence of experience. Since his beginning in New York’s experimental 1970s dance scene, he has earned a place in the high tiers of dance history. Now, as a mature artist with a full resumé, he is in position to look back not only at his own career but also the shape a life might take, any life, and how to tell it.

On Saturday, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company brings a new work, “Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist,” to Miami’s Arsht Center.
“Lance” is an evening length work from Jones’ latest project, the Analogy Trilogy. Each part of the trilogy tells the story of one individual, each from a different time and place. Two are based on people from his family circle and the third portrays a fictional character from German writer W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, the 1992 novel that originally inspired the project.
The Emigrants is, in essence, a fictional oral history told through multiple peoples’ viewpoints and a series of unlabeled photographs. As Jones describes it: “a young narrator is in search of his uncle, and he’s interrogating family members. So he might as well be doing a kind of biography within the novel, trying to get to the truth of his uncle’s life.”
The novel sparked Jones’ interest in portraying lived experience from multiple angles. “I was thinking more and more about my attraction to literary construction and the voice of a novel, the sense of time in a novel, sense of place and so on and so forth,” says Jones. “I had done an oral history with Dora Amelan, who is my mother-in-law, my husband’s mother, maybe 15 to 16 years ago.” The stories he gathered from Amelan, a French Jewish woman who had worked in an internment camp, were incorporated into Jones’ trilogy as a piece titled “Dora.”
“The way the oral history rolled out was fascinating to me, particularly when I gave the voices to various members of my company. So we were embodying through multiple bodies the character of Dora, this 80-plus year old French Jewish woman.” Jones as the interviewer was a second character.
The idea carried over for “Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist,”—the piece from the trilogy that will show in Miami.
“I liked so much the feeling of embodying an oral history that I took the same technique when I was dealing with my nephew, Lance Theodore Briggs, who was very ill at that time,” he says. Lance was a performer in the ‘90s club scene who faced drug addiction, prostitution, AIDS, paraplegia and debilitating illness that threatened to take his life at an early age.
“We thought he might be dying so we were trying to get him in his own words to state his life in the way that Dora had stated her life.”
Using multiple modes of storytelling, from movement to text and sound, music and vocal expression, Jones has created an experience that surrounds us and into which we cannot help but enter.
Working in such an immersive style, Jones has by necessity been reshaping and refining his ensemble.
For “Lance,” set in the 1990s gay club scene, his ballet and modern-trained dancers had to incorporate urban dance styles into their performances. For some of them, he says, “urban dance is their social dance. I would ask them to bring those vocabularies into the process of a piece like ‘Lance.’ And everyone had to learn them.”
He also needed to work out how his female dancers could fit into the male homoerotic environment. “In some ways the women had to be translated into androgynous figures,” he says. “Or if we’re talking about eroticism, sexuality between people, what is it like when a duet is performed by a man and a woman, by two men, or two women?”
The effect is to humanize Lance’s story. We are invited to relate to him with full-spectrum empathy. And, Jones says, in the trilogy we are meant to feel the lives of each of the three characters—it is not delivering a message, but instead, an experience.
“The audience has to be relaxed enough to allow their imagination to make associations,” says Jones, “and to have their heart open enough to be able to see that there is a relationship between what’s being told about a Jewish woman in 1940, an African American gay man in 1996 in New York who has a drug problem, and a novelistic character from the third section who is born in about 1880 and comes to New York in 1911 and dies somewhere in the 1950s in a sanitarium in upstate New York. So the audience has to be quick on their feet, and they have to have a real appetite for making connections.”
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company “Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist,” Sat., Jan. 6, at 8:00 p.m.; Ziff Ballet Opera House, Arsht Center for the Performing Arts 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; tickets: $30-$75;

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About The writer

Cathering Hollingsworth is a dance critic and dancer


About the Writer

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