Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m. – PBS Arts from the Chicago: American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man
(Rochester, NY) – Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, premiering Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), chronicles the intense creative journey of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors recipient and two-time Tony® Award winner, as he tackles the most ambitious work of his career and leads the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in the creation of Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray. The original dance-theater piece is in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial commissioned by Ravinia Festival. Co-directors Bob Hercules of Media Process Group and Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films provide 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. American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man is part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival, a multi-platform event anchored by nine films that highlight artists and performances from around the country.
Through two tumultuous years, 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.”
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. Bill T. Jones: A Good Man also features interviews with dancers, musicians, crew, and staff from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, including Executive Director Jean Davidson, Associate Artistic Director Janet Wong, Producing Director Bob Bursey, and Creative Director/Set Designer Bjorn G. Amelan, as well as Welz Kauffman, CEO and president of Ravinia Festival. Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray premiered at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois, on September 17, 2009.
The film features performances from the Ravinia premiere and rehearsals at the New 42nd Street Studios in New York City, along with production, writing and research sessions, including an emotional viewing of Lincoln’s personal effects at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Archival performances include Still/Here (1994), Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990) and Jones’s collaborations with his late partner Arnie Zane in Valley Cottage (1980), Blauvelt Mountain (1980) and Monkey Run Road (1979).
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