Saturday, September 17, 2011


New York Live Arts has launched its inaugural season with Body Against Body, an exhilarating program of early works by Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, performed by Jones's current troupe members and dance celebrity guests such as Janet Eilber, Vicky Shick, Richard Move and Matthew Rushing. I attended last night's opener, the first of two discrete programs that run through September 25.

Reasons to check in with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at this juncture are many. Body Against Body revisits conceptual works--such as Monkey Run Road (1979) and Continuous Replay (1977), with its full-on, un-selfconscious nudity and lightly ritualistic accumulation and repetition--that remain startlingly airy and clear in structure and delightful today. The troupe season's title can imply a cluster of meanings--the sensuality of flesh against flesh, the playfulness of adept physical instruments directed by equally top-level minds, the supple and sturdy support of one partner for the other. All of these meanings and values can be found in the works on display here as throughout the best of the art Jones has made as survivor of his personal and professional relationship with Zane, who passed in 1988.

Jones and Zane did the one-on-one format especially right. So, if you can still manage to grab a ticket, be sure to see Monkey Run Road (with the choreographers' casually elegant, harmonious roles taken by Talli Jackson and Erick Montes) and Valley Cottage: A Study (1980/1981) with a rotating cast of partners. Last night's pair included Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent, Jones/Zane troupe members and "downtown" dance celebrity artists in their own right. Matteson and Nugent will also appear in Program B's Blauvelt Mountain (A Fiction).

Perhaps, by breathing new life into these historic duets, Jones intends to work some subliminal mojo on any remaining skeptics as he begins his own grand partnership with the former Dance Theater Workshop, host of the original productions of two of these seminal works. It's good to be reminded of where Jones came from, this searching, breakthrough choreographer who now, with Carla Peterson and the rest of the NYLA team, hopes to break down barriers for other artists. His new season should serve as a blessing on NYLA's ambitious venture.

Company performers: Antonio Brown, Talli Jackson, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, LaMichael Leornard, Jr., I-Lin Liu, Paul Matteson, Erick Montes, Jennifer Nugent and Jenna Riegel. Guest artists vary by performance.

With costumes by Liz Prince and lighting by Robert Wierzel

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in Body Against Body continues tonight and September 20-24 at 7:30; Sundays September 18 and September 25 at 5pm. Pre-show Talk: September 21 with dance critic Marcia B. Siegel and Bill T. Jones.

Post-Show Talk: September 23 with Bill T. Jones, Carla Peterson, Janet Wong and the dance company

Check the box office for ticket availability: 212-924-0077

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

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