The Plain Dealer | October 05, 2016
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company faces theatrical test in DanceCleveland series kickoff (preview)
AKRON, Ohio - Give those dancers a raise. In addition to intricate choreography, the artists in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company also have to master speech. As in acting.
Yes, "Analogy/Dora: Tramontane," the work they're bringing to Akron this week, the first, evening-length installment of a planned trilogy, requires the first guests on a new DanceCleveland series not only to move but also to deliver lines. To be actors as well as physical performers.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
What: "Analogy/Dora: Tramontane"
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9.
Where: E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron.
Tickets: $25-$55. Go to dancecleveland.org or call 330-972-7570.
"It's a very different thing," said longtime company member and Cleveland native Antonio Brown. "He [director Bill T. Jones] loves language and words. It's another opportunity for him to test us as dancers."
At least he's got good cause. On his company's first appearance on DanceCleveland in six years, it's bringing along a work based on the remarkable life of Jones' now 95-year-old mother-in-law, Dora Amelan, a Jewish nurse who not only survived but also worked underground during World War II.
Where other choreographers might have used such a story as the backbone of an entirely abstract creation, Jones took a literal approach, asking his nine dancers to voice lines from dialogue with Amelan, all while physically re-enacting portions of her tales. At every point, Brown said, there are dancers representing both Jones and Amelan.
"It just keeps shifting around," Brown explained. "It always fluctuates. It's very much a dance theater piece."
Neither are the words and dancing the only elements. Like many other works of theater, "Analogy/Dora: Tramontane" also relies heavily on lighting, Brown said, and on a set, which in this case consists of movable pieces Brown said are designed to evoke military barracks.
On top of that, "Analogy/Dora" boasts an original soundtrack, a score by New York-based composer Nick Hallett based on German art songs, World War II music, pop songs from the 50s and 60s, and contemporary club music.
"It connects to your heart in a way that a lot of story-telling doesn't," Brown said. "People have been moved by all that this show goes through."
And "Analogy/Dora" is just the beginning. The second installment of the trilogy, "Analogy/Lance," based on the struggles of Jones' nephew with drugs and other addictions, saw its premiere last summer, and could appear in Northeast Ohio later. The third and final portion, meanwhile, remains under construction.
For now, though, the first installment should more than suffice. Certainly, for the dancers, the task ahead is both greater than and unlike anything else, and for the audience, the evening will be totally out of the ordinary.
"It's a very difficult thing, but it's something we're all becoming more familiar with," Brown said. "With this story in particular, I think people are going to enjoy the whole production. It's not a normal, typical dance show."