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Bill T. Jones

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Information about Bill T. Jones

Profile image of Bill T. Jones

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer
Choreographer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Anything My Companion Makes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Naming Things Is Only The Intention To Make Things.

Birthplace

Born:
2/15/1952
Birth Location:
Bunnell, Florida

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer
Choreographer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Anything My Companion Makes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
New Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Naming Things Is Only The Intention To Make Things.

Birthplace

Born:
2/15/1952
Birth Location:
Bunnell
See how Bill T. Jones is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones was born on February 15, 1952 in Bunnell, Florida. He was the tenth of twelve children born to Estella Jones and Augustus Jones, both migrant farmers. At the age of twelve, Jones’ family moved to Wayland County in upstate New York. After graduating from Wayland High School, Jones enrolled at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton where he studied dance and participated in track and field.

In 1971, Jones met Arnie Zane, a photographer, who helped him discover his destiny as a dancer. Jones and Zane joined with one of their professors, Lois Welk, to form the American Dance Asylum (ADA). Their work with the ADA eventually led to Jones’ solo debut with the Dance Theatre Workshop’s Choreographers’ Showcase in 1977. During the next few years, Jones and Zane performed internationally. In 1982, Jones and Zane formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Although the dance troupe met with great success, Zane took ill in 1984; and, in 1988, he died of AIDS-related lymphoma. Jones continued to work with the troupe and created personal works that allowed him to express his grief. One such work, “Absence,” made its debut in 1989. In 1990, the troupe premiered another work inspired by Zane, “Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

In addition to creating more than 140 works for his own company, Jones has been commissioned to create dances for several modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet, among others. Jones directed and performed in a collaborative work with Toni Morrison and Max Roach, “Degga” (1995), at Alice Tully Hall, which was commissioned by the Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun Festival. His collaboration with Jessye Norman, “How! Do! We! Do!” (1999), premiered at New York’s City Center. In 2010, Jones was named executive artistic director of New York Live Arts, a company formed by a merger of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Dance Theater Workshop.

Jones’ work has been recognized with the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1993 Dance Magazine Award. Jones has also received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Yale University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, Skidmore College, the Juilliard School, and Swarthmore College. He is a recipient of the State University of New York at Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award.

Bill T. Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 8, 2014.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bill T. Jones' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones describes his father's upbringing and occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones describes his mother's upbringing and personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones describes his likeness to his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bill T. Jones describes his home in Wayland, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bill T. Jones lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bill T. Jones describes the African American community in Wayland, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bill T. Jones talks about race relations in Wayland, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bill T. Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones remembers his most influential teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones describes his experiences at the Wayland Central School in Wayland, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones remembers his house burning down
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones recalls his family's musical talents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones recalls his introduction to dance
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones recalls working with Percival Borde
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bill T. Jones remembers meeting Arnie Zane
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bill T. Jones remembers traveling to Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones remembers studying dance in California with Lois Welk
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones recalls establishing the American Dance Asylum
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones describes the style of the American Dance Asylum
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones remembers documenting his early choreography
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones lists the choreographers who influenced him
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones recalls his debut at the Delacorte Theater in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bill T. Jones recalls the response to his first major performance
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bill T. Jones talks about his relationship with Lois Welk
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bill T. Jones talks about his partnership with Arnie Zane
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones talks about the critical reception of his work
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones remembers meeting Alvin Ailey
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones describes his choreographic influences, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones describe his choreographic influences, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones remembers forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones talks about Arnie Zane's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bill T. Jones describes the influence of the AIDS crisis upon his work
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bill T. Jones talks about his grieving process
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bill T. Jones remembers his relationship with Arthur Aviles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Bill T. Jones recalls the start of his relationship with Bjorn Amelan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bill T. Jones reflects upon his romantic relationships
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones remembers receiving a MacArthur Fellowship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones talks about his critics
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones describes his family's reaction to his work
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones remembers collaborating with Max Roach and Toni Morrison
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones remembers his choreography for 'Spring Awakening'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones remembers directing and choreographing 'Fela!'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bill T. Jones recalls his company's merger with the Dance Theater Workshop
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bill T. Jones talks about New York Live Arts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bill T. Jones describes 'Story/Time'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bill T. Jones talks about 'Analogy/Dora: Tramontane'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bill T. Jones describes 'A Letter to My Nephew'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bill T. Jones describes his plans for the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bill T. Jones reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bill T. Jones describes how he would like to be remembered