Body Against Body

By Courtney Bottazzi

Staff Writer

On Feb. 11, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performed “Body Against Body” as part of the Weis Center Performance Series. The performance challenged the audience to reconsider preconceived notions of what to expect from a visual performance. 

The pieces were all co-choreographed by Bill T. Jones and his late partner Arnie Zane. The first piece, “Duet x 2,” did not allow the audience the comfort of an audio track. Instead, the audience heard staccato sound bits from the dancers landing or the languid sweep of their feet across the floor. The dancers’ breathing was the most prominent sound throughout the piece. Without a beat to rely on, the audience was susceptible to the incredible task these dancers had of keeping up with one another.

“They [Jones and Zane] made works that were collaborative, matter-of-fact, inclusive, often disjointed, sometimes boring and sometimes fun,” said Marcia B. Siegel, a dance critic and lecturer. 

A union between two dancers’ bodies became evident. There were struggles, synchronization and at times moments of complete stillness where the dancers rested on each other in a hug.

The goal of the performance was clear: the audience was to participate by witnessing the experimentation of this dance rather than to sit back and be entertained. The unexpected aspects, such as surprising moments of humor and conversational speech, may have been for the audience’s benefit, but it was recreating the tension between two bodies that was the true intention of the performance.

The simple set design allowed for an intimate performance where the audience could pay more attention to different factors, such as focusing on one dancer or another, or noting which moves were being replicated.

“My overall impression of the performance was that it demonstrated the sheer athleticism of dance. Aesthetically, it wasn’t my favorite type of dance. I am typically intrigued by group dances that have some tangible element or storyline. So this type of dance was a departure from what I usually seek out. I was completely impressed by the creative process that went into building these pieces. The duets required a collaborative spirit, and I was amazed at their ability to stay on pace with each other without musical accompaniment,” Bucknell Dance Company member Adrienne Vischio ’12 said.

Kourtney Ginn ’12, also a senior member of the Bucknell Dance Company, was able to view the performance contextually with knowledge of Jones’ more recent pieces.

“I tried to look at the performance through a historical lens. I have seen Bill T. Jones’ more current work, but it was much different to see some of his original works this time. You can absolutely see his growth as a choreographer and how today he has been able to bridge the gap between post-modern dance (like what was presented) and the entertainment factor that many audiences desire now. As a choreographer myself, I could clearly see how he was exploring the fundamental elements dance composition through his use of repetition, space and others. Overall, the physicality and athleticism of this company never ceases to amaze me,” she said. 

It is clear that this dance company continuously strives to make an impact on its audience.

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