THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS ACQUIRES BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE COMPANY ARCHIVE

Paper portions of the collection available now in the Library's Jerome Robbins Dance Division

August 20, 2019 - The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts announced today that it has acquired the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company Archive, a comprehensive collection spanning the entirety of the company's existence. Beginning today, the paper-based materials in the collection -- including photographs, correspondence, production notes, company records, and more -- are now available for research at the Library's Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Spanning approximately 200 linear feet of paper materials, and 400 audio and moving image elements, the collection encompasses research field recordings, photographs, programs, correspondence, posters, institutional records, film and audio materials. While the paper-based materials are available now to users, the Library is currently processing the collection's audio and moving image materials and will make them available at a future date. 

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company Archive includes rehearsal photographs and photographs by Zane, as well as domestic and international tour files, files documenting the everyday operations of New York Live Arts and Foundation for Dance Promotion, and other ephemera. The archive contains a substantial number of audio and moving image materials, showing Jones's meticulous documentation of his creative process. Audio and video highlights include previously unidentified early film of Zane and Jones experimenting in the studio, as well as footage of Zane's own choreography. Zane's background as a photographer led to him and Jones developing a unique choreographic style based on the idea of flickering frames with a building crescendo of multiple stacked striking images. The early footage in the collection offers the only known opportunity to see this process in action. The paper-based materials also document the formation of New York Live Arts through the merging of Dance Theater Workshop and the Foundation for Dance Promotion.

A passionate social activist, Jones also researches heavily for each new work, and a compelling component of the collection is his oral histories from Still/Here. Conducted in 10 American cities over an 18-month period, the Still/Here oral histories document 200 stories of people living with life-threatening illnesses. These recordings are an important way to understand the AIDS crisis of the early 1990s, as well as larger concepts of morality and humanity that arise in Jones' work. Unique footage of Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin, Jones' magnum opus on AIDS, echoes these themes. 

"After 48 years in a body-based art form that relies so heavily on the notion of time as experienced by performer and observer," said Bill T. Jones, "it is tempting to relate to time as an adversary. With time, the works are reduced to reports in language, photographs, videos and memory. Having these artifacts of our works preserved in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is empowering, humbling and ultimately a small victory over the crushing obscurity that time brings." 

​​"The continuing impact of Bill T. Jones on cultural life is monumental​," said Linda Murray, curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division​. ​"​He reveals and articulates aspects of our humanity which are hidden from us and he elevates the everyday into the realm of the mythic. Mr. Jones’ work has deeply spoken to​,​ ​and on behalf of ​multiple generations​. We are incredibly humbled that the Dance Division ​is ​​now​ home​ to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company Archive​."

Founded in 1982, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company was born out of an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948–1988). During this time, they redefined the duet form and foreshadowed issues of identity, form and social commentary that would change the face of American dance. The Company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 40 countries on every major continent and is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the dance-theater world.

Bill T. Jones is the recipient of the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award; the 2013 National Medal of Arts; the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors; a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography of the critically acclaimed FELA!; a 2007 Tony Award, 2007 Obie Award, and 2006 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation CALLAWAY Award for his choreography for Spring Awakening; the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2007 USA Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship; the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreography for The Seven; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2005 Harlem Renaissance Award; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1994 MacArthur "Genius" Award. In 2010, Jones was recognized as Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and in 2000, The Dance Heritage Coalition named Jones "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure."  

Jones choreographed and performed worldwide with his late partner, Arnie Zane, before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982. He has created more than 140 works for his company. Jones is the Artistic Director of New York Live Arts. 

Arnie Zane was a native New Yorker born in the Bronx and educated at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. In 1971, Zane and Jones began their long collaboration in choreography and in 1973 formed the American Dance Asylum in Binghamton with Lois Welk. Zane's first recognition in the arts came as a photographer when he received a Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) Fellowship in 1973. Zane was the recipient of a second CAPS Fellowship in 1981 for choreography, as well as two Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1983 and 1984).  In 1980, Zane was co-recipient, with Bill T. Jones, of the German Critics Award for his work, Blauvelt Mountain. Rotary Action, a duet with Jones, was filmed for television, co-produced by WGBH-TV Boston and Channel 4 in London.

Press contact: Nora Lyons/noralyons@nypl.org


About The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has 92 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.