Representing emotional experience on the dance stage: the reflexive and creative universe of Bill T. Jones's movements
Maria José Fazenda
(Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa (Lisbon Polytechnic))
Paper short abstract:
Focusing on the modes of representation of emotional experiences in some of Bill T. Jones’ dance pieces, I intend to argue that these have a motivation and a sense that are only visible in the light of the political and socio-cultural context in which the choreographer moves.
Paper long abstract:
North-American choreographer, Bill T. Jones started his activity as a professional dancer in the 1970s. Jones brings onto the dance stage both his visions of the world and representations of his own experiences - experiences that come with age, gender, race, professional activity, illness, emotions, beliefs, values. Reflexivity is a characteristic of theatrical dance (Turner). But what is characteristic of Jones is that he practices and thinks about art and creativity explicitly in its direct relationship with his life experience. The way he verbalizes that relationship strengthens the intentionally reflexive dimension of his dance performances. Having in mind that the emotional experience is a factor that constitutes the person and conducts the performative act, and focusing on the modes of representation of emotional experiences in some of Jones's works created in the 1980s and 1990s — D-Man in the Waters, Achilles Loved Patroclus, Still/Here and Ursonate —, I intend to argue that these emotional expressions, have a motivation and a sense that, beyond the psychobiological explanations (Lutz and White), are only visible and understood if we interpret them in the light of the political and socio-cultural context in which the creator moves and which informs his own live experience.
Performing creativity and creating performances: dialogues and tensions on experiencing culture and making places