In this video from the documentary American Masters: Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has been commissioned by the Ravinia Festival in Chicago to create a dance performance celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. While Bill T. Jones decides that Paul, a dancer within the ensemble, will represent the “dancing” body of Lincoln, he also ponders an approach to the development of the performance piece as a non-narrative series of ideas.
Classroom Activity: Research Project Option 1
Students research the style and aesthetics of contemporary dance using both web- and text-based sources. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company web site and the Jacobs Pillow Dance web site both include contemporary dance performance excerpts. Students can also watch the video "Bodies Move" once again to identify some examples of contemporary dance movement in the piece D-Man in the Waters. As they work, encourage students to jot down words and phrases that describe the contemporary dance style and to incorporate this “language of dance” in their notes and descriptions. Then have students compare the movements of contemporary dance to the stylized movements of ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop or another dance form of their choice.
Alternatively, students may choose to research another art form– e.g. music, painting, photography, theater, or literature– and compare/contrast the modern or contemporary styles of their chosen art form with other, more traditional styles.
Classroom Activity: Research Project Option 2
Students research the performance work of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company using the company web site and the Jacobs Pillow Dance web site.
As part of their research, encourage students to watch the video Body Against Body on the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company web site. This video presents a performance that revives and re-considers the duets and solos that launched the careers of Bill T. Jones and his late partner, Arnie Zane.
Bill [vo]: We’re sort of trying to have it both ways now.
Jamyl: ...any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it.
Bill [vo]: Paul is the dancing body that, for those persons who need it, will identify with Lincoln.
Jamyl: -- that would be another question.
Bob [vo]: It is such a non-sequitur, a dance work about Abraham Lincoln. Where the post-modernists came out of was saying ‘no’ to narrative, ‘no’ to overt meaning.
Bob: We are expressing ourselves purely through this movement.
Bob [vo]: There’s a piece that Bill made called ‘D-Man in the Waters’. It’s pure dance, lovely music.
Leah [vo]: When I came in, Bill’s kind of thrust was going back to
Leah: what beauty is and could pure movement on its own be interesting.
Bob [vo]: That’s part of where Bill came from.
Bob [vo]: He has those bones in his body.
Bill [vo]: There is great beauty in impulses and movements. But my generation, we were interested in theatricality, psychology. A body like mine came into the field and was suddenly aware of being a black body being watched by white bodies. Now this avant-garde I’m talking about – color is not important.
Bill: It’s all the mechanics of it, like animals, and I said, no no no no. ‘Cause you’re not only watching a body move, but there’s a whole social political psychological construct that allows you and I to even be in the room together.
Bill [vo]: Now what place does that play in the choreography?
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We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.