Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company was founded in 1982. Learn more about the company, its co-founders Jones and Zane, and the company’s incredibly rich and influential repertory of past works (warning: this is impressively concise but still quite a long read).

Analogy Trilogy was created by Bill T. Jones, Associate Artistic Director Janet Wong, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, over the course of four years. It combines dance, theater and oral history in an investigation of memory, storytelling and form. Performed to live music composed by Nick Hallett, the complete trilogy searches for the connection between three varying stories, focusing on memory and the effect of events on the actions of individuals.

Analogy/Dora: Tramontane
Based on an oral history Jones conducted with 98-year old Dora Amelan, Dora is a meditation on perseverance, resourcefulness and resilience while suggesting the amorphous nature of memory.

Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist
Lance, based on an oral history Jones conducted with his nephew, Lance T. Briggs, is a tragic, yet humorous journey through the sex trade, drug use and excess during the 1980s.

Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant
Ambrose is a fictionalized history that examines trauma and its effects on the course of an individual’s life, weaving together story, character, multi-media and song. Composer and vocalist Nick Hallett has set passages of the story to music and will be joined by pianist Emily Manzo and all the members of the company performing an original song cycle that partners with their movement, both as soloists and in a ghostly choir.

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Hot Off the Presses

New York Times interview with Bill T. Jones

Pure dance no longer holds the allure it once did for Bill T. Jones. So what’s this award-winning choreographer to do? For one thing, he has removed the word “dance” from his company’s name. “We’re a contemporary performance ensemble,” he said on a recent afternoon.

"Analogy Trilogy" feature in Dance Magazine

Bill T. Jones is one of the few choreographers who can weave together social consciousness with choreographic inventiveness… Jones has always been engaged in social issues. It’s part of what makes his work so resonant—and so necessary for our times.

Get Into It: Trailers & Behind the Scenes

A four-part video interview with Bill T. Jones & Susan Rethorst in Movement Research; and Bill T. Jones’ TED Talk (of course he’s done a TED Talk! He’s a legend!). Plus, a 2016 feature on Jones in T Magazine that focuses on the development process of Analogy Trilogy:

“Analogy” comes from the Greek analogos, meaning “proportional,” with respect to a thing or person’s share, allotment, lot.

Sebald 101

The trilogy is inspired in part by W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants (particularly the section “Ambros Adelwarth“) – first published in 1992, and reissued in 2016, coinciding with a political moment of border walls and travel bans.

Read more about Sebald’s work, in a New Yorker essay by Andre Aciman (of Call Me By Your Name fame), and in The Literary Review.

Need more inspiration? Here’s another New Yorker essay that lays out why you should be reading Sebald:

It is probably too early to predict the extent of the influence Sebald’s hybrid books will exert on the shape of the novel, but it isn’t an exaggeration to say that he erased and redrew the boundaries of narrative fiction as radically as anyone since Borges… Reading him is a wonderfully disorienting experience, not least because of the odd, invigorating uncertainty as to what it is, precisely, we are reading… Often what is on the page, the writing itself, gives the impression of being only the faint, flickering shadow of its actual referent. What Sebald seems to be writing about, in other words, is frequently not what he wants us to be thinking about.

Bill T. Jones Bookshelf

Learn more about the legacy of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, race, and contemporary aesthetics.

Daphne Brooks. Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom. Duke University Press, 2006.

Thomas DeFrantz & Anita Gonzalez, editors. Black Performance Theory. Duke University Press, 2014.

Marc Strauss. Looking at Contemporary Dance: A Guide for the Internet Age. Princeton Book Company, 2012.

Bill T. Jones is multiply prolific: he’s also an author of 2 memoirs and a children’s book, and has contributed to several volumes on Arnie Zane’s work.

Last Night on Earth, 1995

Body Against Body: The Dance and Other Collaborations of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, 1989

Dance, 1998

Continuous Replay: The Photography of Arnie Zane, 1999

Story/Time: The Life of an Idea, 2014

Extra Credit

Want to know what keeps Bill T. Jones inspired? Here’s one thing: he reads poetry every day and can recite Frank O’Hara at the drop of a hat.

Follow Jones’ lead and find inspiration in poetry. Here’s a pair of poems from Danez Smith, award-winning contemporary queer black non-binary HIV+ poet. Smith — like Jones — gives us God, and blood, and dance, but through another medium.

sometimes i wish i felt the side effects
Danez Smith

but there is no proof but proof
no mark but the good news

that there is no bad news yet. again.
i wish i knew the nausea, its thick yell

in the morning, the pregnant proof
that in you, life swells. i know

i’m not a mother, but i know what it is
to nurse a thing you want to kill

but can’t. you learn to love it. yes.
i love my sweet virus. it is my proof

of life, my toxic angel, wasted utopia
what makes my blood my blood.

i understand belle now, how she could
love the beast. if you stare at fangs

long enough, even fangs pink
with your own blood look soft.

low-key, later, it felt like i got it
out the way, to finally know it

up close, see it in the mirror.
it doesn’t feel good to say that.

it doesn’t feel good to know
your need outweighed your fear.

i braved a stupid ocean. a man.
i waded in his stupid waters.

i took his stupid salt & let it
brine my skin, took his stupid

fish into my hands & bit into it
like a flapping plum. i kissed at

his stupid coral & stupid algae.
it was stupid. silly really. i knew nothing

that easy to get & good to feel
isn’t also trying to eat you.

knew what could happen. needed
no snake. grew the fruit myself.

was the vine & the rain & the light.
the dirt was me. the hands drilling

into the dirt were my hands.
i made the blade that cut me down.

but i only knew how to live
when i knew how i’ll die.

i want to live. think i mean it.
take the pill even on the days

i think i won’t survive myself.
gave my body a shot. love myself

at least that much. thank you, me.
thank you, pill, seafoam & bland.

thank you, sick blood, my first husband
dead river bright with salmon.

Tonight, in Oakland
Danez Smith

I did not come here to sing a blues.
Lately, I open my mouth

& out comes marigolds, yellow plums.
I came to make the sky a garden.

Give me rain or give me honey, dear lord.
The sky has given us no water this year.

I ride my bike to a boy, when I get there
what we make will not be beautiful

or love at all, but it will be deserved.
I’ve started seeking men to wet the harvest.

Come, tonight I declare we must move
instead of pray. Tonight, east of here,
two boys, one dressed in what could be blood

& one dressed in what could be blood
before the wound, meet & mean mug

& God, tonight, let them dance! Tonight,
the bullet does not exist. Tonight, the police

have turned to their God for forgiveness.
Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God

with no need for shovels, we serve a God
with a bad hip & a brother in prison.

Tonight, let every man be his own lord.
Let wherever two people stand be a reunion

of ancient lights. Let’s waste the moon’s marble glow
shouting our names to the stars until we are

the stars. O, precious God! O, sweet black town!
I am drunk & I thirst. When I get to the boy

who lets me practice hunger with him
I will not give him the name of your newest ghost

I will give him my body & what he does with it
is none of my business, but I will say look,

I made it a whole day, still, no rain
still, I am without exit wound

& he will say Tonight, I want to take you
how the police do, unarmed & sudden

& tonight, when we dream, we dream of dancing
in a city slowly becoming ash.

Danez Smith, "tonight, in Oakland"
Danez Smith reading "Tonight, in Oakland"