An intensely stirring depiction of creative ambition and struggle, this portrait of charismatic African American choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones observes the artist as he forges a massive, controversial dance-theatre work for the Lincoln bicentennial.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
An intensely stirring depiction of creative ambition and struggle, this portrait of African American choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones observes the artist as he forges a massive, contentious dance-theatre work commissioned for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Jones, a fiercely articulate, intelligent artist, begins with a question that hovers over the film and throughout the two-year evolution of his show: was Lincoln a good man? Jones’ relationship to his subject – the only white man he was allowed to ‘love unconditionally’ – undergoes many changes. Jones is as demanding of his dancers, whose bodies are his ‘sublime materials’, and other close collaborators with whom he has been working for many years, as he is of himself. Inspired and inspiring, but also capable of violent outbursts when frustrated, Jones is a commanding, volatile presence. Archival footage from earlier phases of his illustrious career weave through the film, but it’s the way that Jones harnesses dynamic creative relationships into a common desire for exploration that make this film so fascinating. — SR