STORY/TIME by Bill T. Jones


The Life of an Idea
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An experimental dancer/choreographer/performance artist improvises on the nature of story itself in a unique format.

Derived from Jones’ presentations at Princeton University for the Toni Morrison Lectures in 2012, the text is a hybrid. There is some introductory material explaining what follows—material that credits John Cage’s Indeterminacy (1958) for inspiration. (The author returns to consider Cage continually.) The central—and largest section—is a series of 60 single-page narratives, each designed to consume a minute of dance and reading. Jones has used a computer’s random sorting program to arrange the narratives, so readers need to be alert as they move from page to page, for time and location and theme change rapidly, and chronology is an anachronism. In one 10-page segment, we move from a New Mexico mesa, to news about a friend’s death, to acquiring old family photographs, to John Cage’s diary, to a visit to Theresienstadt, to an amateur porn film. Readers become participants, seeking sense, as if looking at an unfamiliar landscape through the windows of a swiftly moving train. Each narrative, however, has an emotional core that readers will feel, sometimes quite powerfully. Another major section is a collection of black-and-white photographs of the performances. We see the performers, an image of time from a digital clock, and the author, seated at a small table, reading his narratives from a loose-leaf binder. The images conclude with a performer lying on the floor, mist swirling around. In the final section, Jones reflects on what he has done, tells how he began as a dancer and choreographer, and returns again to Cage, including a brief transcript of a conversation with Laura Kuhn, the John Cage Professor of Performance Art at Bard College.

A brave and often successful attempt to capture and display movement and intuition and the unspoken on the printed page.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691162706
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Princeton Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014


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