| Bill Jones was born and raised in rural Steuben County in upstate New
York. He began his dance training as a student at the State University of
New York at Binghamton where, as a theater major on an athletic
scholarship, he enrolled in dance classes with Percival Borde.
After living briefly in Amsterdam, Jones returned to SUNY in 1973 and
joined with Lois Welk in forming the American Dance Asylum. Two years
earlier, Jones met his long-time partner and companion Arnie Zane. The two
choreographed and performed innovative solos and duos in the 1970s, often
employing openly gay choreography. In 1982 they founded Bill T.
Jones/Arnie Zane and Company, which provided a vehicle for the development
of their choreography. Their works increasingly took on evening-length
Jones, a tall, powerful dancer, was an outstanding soloist who often
mixed video, text, and autobiographical material with his choreography, as
he did in "Blauvelt Mountain" (1980) and "Valley Cottage"
(1981), part of the trilogy that began with "Monkey Run Road" (1979).
Jones and Zane gained recognition as "new wave" or "post modern"
choreographers whose large-scale, abstract collaborations, such as
"Secret Pastures, Freedom of Information," and "Social
Intercourse," were visually and spatially altered by contemporary sets,
costumes, and body paintings. They danced in costumes by clothing designer
Willi Smith and had sets created by pop artist Keith Haring. These
collaborative works were performed in prestigious venues such as the
Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York's City Center theater.
In 1983, Jones was commissioned to create the fast-paced, all-male
"Fever Swamp" for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, followed by
"How to Walk an Elephant," in 1985. After Zane's death in 1988 from
AIDS, Jones continued to choreograph and perform. His works expanded to
the field of opera and musical theater. He choreographed British composer
Sir Michael Tippett's "New Year" (1990), choreographed and directed
Leroy Jenkins' "Mother of Three Sons" (1991) at the New York City
Opera, and directed Kurt Weill's "Lost in the Stars" in 1992. Jones'
work has been commissioned by companies throughout the U.S. and Europe. In
1986 Jones and Zane received a Bessie Award, and in 1991 Jones was
recognized as an "innovative master" with the Dorothy B. Chandler
Performing Arts Award. In June of 1994, Jones was awarded a MacArthur
-- Julinda Lewis-Ferguson