The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land, choreographed by Bill T. Jones in 1994, a celebrated and provocative work addressing issues of racism, sexual freedom, and religion.


Bill T. Jones, Photo by Susan Kuklin A 1998 studio shot of Bill T. Jones, a charismatic performer whose personal style draws on contact improvisation, African and Afro-Caribbean dance, and various modern dance techniques. (Photograph by Susan Kuklin; courtesy of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.)


Dancer, choreographer, and artistic director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Bill T. Jones (1952-) was born in Bunnell, Florida. He discovered dance at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he studied experimental movement with Kei Takei, contact improvisation, West African and Afro-Caribbean dance, and various modern dance techniques. His encounter with Arnie Zane in 1971 marked the beginning of a seventeen-year collaboration and partnership. Two years later they founded their first company, the American Dance Asylum; this was followed in 1982 by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, a troupe of unusual physical and racial diversity that honed his skills as a choreographer. After Zane's death from AIDS in 1988, Jones grieved choreographically. He began to make evening-long pieces—Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land (1990) and Still/Here (1994), among others—in which he grappled with major social issues like racism and AIDS, presenting them in highly theatrical formats that found an enthusiastic international following. He remains a popular and charismatic performer. www.billtjones.org

Learn more in Bill T. Jones, an essay by Kirsten Wilkinson.