Bill T. Jones
Public Broadcasting will unveil a portrait of America's foremost choreographer, Bill T. Jones, Friday, November 11 at 9 p.m. The documentary 'Bill T. Jones: A Good Man' is broadcast as part of the American Masters 25th anniversary season.
"Abraham Lincoln and Bill T. Jones make total sense to me," says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters series, a seven-time Emmy Award winner.
"The courage and convictions of both men are a testament to the timeless endurance of art and action."
The 90-minute film chronicles the intense creative journey that Jones makes as he tackles the most ambitious work of his career 'Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray', an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial commissioned by Ravinia Festival. Performers from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company work with Jones through two tumultuous years of rehearsal and creativity.
Watching the film we witness raw moments of frustration as Jones struggles to communicate his vision to his dancers and collaborators, as well as moments of great exhilaration when movement transcends the limitation of words. Jones and his company come face-to-face with America's unresolved contradictions about race, equality and the legacy of our 16th President.
Initially an indictment of "The Great Emancipator," the work evolves into a triumph of hope for our struggling democracy, with Jones revealing that Lincoln was "the only white man I was allowed to love unconditionally."
Jones is a 2010 Kennedy Center Honors recipient and two-time Tony® Award winner for Best Choreography
Co-directors Bob Hercules of Media Process Group and Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films open a window into the creative process and the creative crisis of one of our nation's most enduring, provocative artists as he explores what it means to be a good man, to be a free man, to be a citizen.
"I had always wanted to make a film that follows the creation of art from the very beginning all the way to the end," says Hercules.
"Bill T Jones: A Good Man gave us that chance… Luckily, we had the resources and determination to keep filming through the whole process up to the premiere of the piece two years later. The result is an unvarnished look at how art gets created."
Throughout the film Jones explains how his childhood, artistic journey, personal feelings about Lincoln, and current emotional and physical condition affect the piece's direction and development.