'I speak many languages, all English, but African-American is my mother tongue. It is a constant, as loyal as my face, invisible to me without the aid of a mirror. In this case the mirror is history, both personal and public.'
– Bill T. Jones, Last Night on Earth
Bill T. Jones a powerful presence in the international contemporary dance world who has transcended aesthetic and political compromises, turning the act of making theatre into a pure voyage of experience.
A unique and trans-discursive figure, Jones has consistently challenged the choreographic process as well as the process of thinking about dance, by questioning the impulse to create art in the context of the society in which he lives – a society nourished by its own history, literature, consciousness, amnesias, and mistakes. His identity as a dancer-choreographer cannot be separated from his importance as an experimental storyteller and eloquent, often critical public figure.
In her analysis of the notion of style, Susan Sontag suggested that will is an important element of the double essence of the work of art, which is simultaneously an object and a function, an artifice and a living example of our consciousness, an individual creation and a historical phenomenon. Over the years, Jones has managed to give material existence to this will through his work, rendering it visible and accessible to the public, maintaining the audience’s interest through his storytelling, historical inquiring, choreographic articulation but also, to use Sontag’s language, through the 'intensity, authority, and wisdom of his will'.
For the first fifteen years of his career as a dancer and choreographer, Jones is Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. In this case, the and stands for much more than a simple conjunction; it represents a robust bridge where exchange of ideas, cultural influences, as well as shared artistic explorations and practices took place. When the two artists founded the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982, they extended their choreographic adventure to collaborations with other artists. Dancers were, and still are, selected as citizens of a diverse, almost utopian society, as well as for their talents and training.
Since the early 1990s, Jones has embarked onto an ambitious and distinct multi-layered dance-theater adventure. In doing so, he has created some of the most powerful, written-about, and highly praised theatrical works.
Jones met Arnie Zane in 1971, during his first year of college in Binghamton. A first generation Jewish-Italian, Zane studied theatre and art history. From the beginning, their partnership was one based on shared interests and mutual support, but photography remained Zane’s exclusive sphere of expertise with Jones featured as one of the eminent subjects. The feverish photographic production of the early 1970s would eventually fade as their interest and involvement in the dance world grew.
The choice of black and white, in his early portraits taken in Amsterdam and San Francisco, treated with sepia toning, embraced the subjects within an aura of theatricality. Zane’s overwhelming attention to detail would reveal eruptions of humorous micro-stories, or evoke a sense of epic. Each singular aesthetic decision in Zane’s photographs reveals how the photographer invites both the subject and the viewer to make a move. Often printed in small postcard formats, for instance, photos solicited the viewer to get physically closer, creating an intimate experience.
Zane’s lens never functioned as a distant gaze. His later study on torsos no longer captured the athletic lifeguards in San Francisco, or the statuesque beauty of Jones, instead Pearl Pease, an elderly woman, whom they befriended in Binghamton, became the leading character, appearing in their choreographic works with the American Dance Asylum as well.
As Zane embraced abstraction through close-ups of the torso, magnifying skin and veins, his photographs became maps of the soul, revealing fragments of human vulnerability. Traces of the photographic elements --the use of sequences in an accumulation of gestures and expressions, the sudden stop in precarious balances, the construction of tableaux vivant --eventually bled into their choreographic work.
'Together, Arnie and I form some mythical beast. We flew. I had the wings, but it was something about the strength of his legs that got us off the ground. This adventure we were having in the art world could fall apart, but we would still be together.'
– Bill T. Jones, Last Night on Earth
The choreographic vocabulary of the duets sprang from contact improvisation, a technique with which both dancers were intimately familiar. Jones and Zane had studied with Lois Welk, and with her had been part of the collective American Dance Asylum in Binghamton. Together they had spent years incessantly creating, developing, practicing and analyzing new works, in an intellectually stimulating environment, influenced by experimental filmmakers such as Michael Snow, Stan Brackage, as well as by choreographer Richard Bull.
However, in the duets, the language of contact improvisation which relies on the precision of jumps, holds, tumbles, falls and the ability to anticipate and support the actions of others, became increasingly refined, and submitted to a formal rigor that grows more and more distant from the esthetics and practices of the previous decade. Their experimentation with narrative constructions and a particular use of space and props soon became identifiable as elements of their new theatrical signature.
Their athleticism mixed with irony mischievously placed on repetition, accumulation, and speed, the precarious balances interrupted by the tenderness of their touching, and kissing. Their secret whisperings at the periphery of the stage, as only plotters of thrilling lives can do, will forever belong to the collective memory of the 1980s. The impact the two charismatic performers and lovers had on audiences at the time, would transform the partnering of male dancers from that point onward. Even as the subversive aspect of a same-sex couple dancing has partially faded, the intricacy of the choreography remains, and serves as a sharp tool revealing the individual characteristics of the new dancers who learn and perform the duets.
After the international success of their duets, Jones and Zane felt ready to expand and share their adventure with a group of dancers, giving life to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982.
For decades, post-modern dancers had promoted the idea of the democratic body; Jones and Zane, through their selection of company members, were the first to realize this goal. The company was a motley crew of talented dancers that best represented the energy of New York. Among all the contemporary companies, it was also one of the few to challenge the conventions and rules dictated by the avant-garde, with the reintroduction of narrative structures into their performances.
Secret Pastures (1984) can be considered the most representative work of those years with its meta-investigation of dance history and indirect confrontation with questions of identity through a playful and subversive use of irony. Keith Haring’s set design, and Peter Gordon’s music contributed in reinforcing the aesthetics of the company as a leading member of the innovative community. Its glamorous gayness was a loud alternative to the mainstream culture, such as Hollywood, promoting conservative gender and family values with sculpted bodies in suits during the Reagan era.
The same vein of irony and playfulness can be found in a more recent multi-layered extravaganza, based on a puppet play by Jane Bowles, A Quarreling Pair (2007).
In Jones’ works after Zane’s death, dance becomes a vehicle to navigate the process of mourning by re-enacting his story of loss, again and again, experimenting with different choreographic strategies, and new narrative forms. In those works such as Absence (1989), and D-Man in the Waters (1989), Jones explores concepts such as pain, anger, loss and fear of mortality with choreographic agency.
Jones’ solo Last Night on Earth (1992), relies on modes of accumulation and repetition used in the past. His dancing, expansive and lyrical, alternates with more graphic gestures, drawing on his own body almost a memory map with his index finger, pointing out to his mouth, eyes, genitals – repeating “It’s not my enemy.” The sentence applies to his body, sexuality as well as to his memory, exorcising his fears but most importantly, reasserting himself into the public sphere as someone active and vital, sexually desirable.
But it is with Still/Here (1994) that through his 'sociological imagination', Jones manages to translate a collection of individual stories by creating an intersubjective space, and positioning them into a wider historical context. Still/Here, by moving the experience of loss from the private onto the public sphere was able to provide an empowering, counter-narrative to that proposed by the dominant homophobic culture of those years.
In 1992 Jones conducted The Survival Workshops, involving a wide group of volunteers confronting illness. Movement became the central axis of the project: the space where negotiations between thought and emotions, the present and the remote future, could occur. The workshops, seeking to recirculate the physical vitality that illnesses tend to erase, documented by video artist Gretchen Bender, were transformed for the stage through a montage. Fragments from the more detailed narrations were extrapolated and repeated to evoke empathy. The video documentary, like the workshops, used movement as a substitutive instrument to facilitate the inability to coherently verbalize hardship. The deconstruction of gestures, shared by the participants which became unsentimentally formal in the dancers’ hand, was still powerfully touching.
The dance critic of The New Yorker, Arlene Croce’s unethical choice of writing an article on Still/Here while refusing to see the performance, unleashed a storm of controversy turning Still/Here into a scandal, that paradoxically helped position dance in a more central site of culture discourse.
Jones’ mesmerizing solo performances began before his partnership with Zane and have continued throughout his career. Initially his speaking was purely improvised, and often confrontational, bursting into singing, in what he called 'spontaneous poetry'. Later solos became more structured: descriptive, analytical, reflective, lyrical, still unpredictable. Jones’ solos are often set at the start of performances, introducing themes carried on by the ensemble.
Aware of the spectators’ gaze, Jones uses his charisma and non-linear storytelling as a way to remain in charge over his own narrative. At the same time, he seems to engage in virtual conversations with his contemporary community of artists, such as Richard Bull in his strategy of constructing dances, in Floating the Tongue (1978), with Keith Haring while drawing on the wall in Long Distance (1982), in addition to the audience.
In The Breathing Show (1999), Jones manages to set a conversation between his corporeal self, by breathing, dancing to classical music, and talking to the audience, and the incorporeal self in Ghostcatching. The co-existence of both on stage reinforces the power of each. Ghostcatching, Jones’ collaboration with artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eskar (later revisited in After Ghostcatching, 2010) remains one of the most arresting explorations of dance and digital art.
The recording of Jones’ dancing, through 'motion capture', brings with uncanny accuracy Jones’ angles of the limbs, the hand gestures, the sudden jumps, the isolated movements of the head and the fluidity of the spine. The digital processing creates its own synthetic universe that, unlike other visual arts that focus on the representation of a subject, a synthetic entity seems to come from a much deeper place, bringing to the fore the artist’s experience and history. With the disappearance of Jones’ corporeal identity, a powerful daunting one returns, with his recognizable voice singing. Jones materializes as a presence, not as an image.
'History has rules. One rule dictates that a people whose identity has been forged by violence and deprivation will manifest violence and deprivation. Such rules must be broken.'
- Bill T. Jones, Last Night on Earth
Since Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990), the first of a long and complex series of works, Jones has been developing a dance-theater spectacle that is monumental, both in scope and aspiration, and in its choreographic agency.
All throughout his career Jones has transformed his activity of avid reader into a collective practice of inquiry; first with his company as central to their creative process, then with the audience. Interrogating a text, attempting to bring new questions while remembering, analyzing, and creating a new work, becomes a demanding methodology of citizenship powerfully articulated through dance. Spectators are taken to many journeys, based on their own empathic and knowledgeable receptivity, imagination, and ability to move along, perhaps even repositioning themselves.
Jones’ performances, built through the superimposition and juxtaposition of meanings, often bring onto the stage classic American novels, or touchstone documents of American history – from Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Melville’s Moby Dick, from O’Connor’s The Artificial Nigger to Baraka’s The Dutchman, from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, to Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream. Revisiting some classics, and re-visiting them again, is a way to exhaust unanswered questions and reveal more subliminal meanings, part of a cultural, and often times hurtful, imprint. A way to deal with what Toni Morrison called national amnesia.
In Serenade/The Preposition (2008) and Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray (2009), for instance, invited by the Ravinia Festival in celebration of Lincoln bicentennial, Jones complicates the story of Lincoln as the heroic President during the civil war, by challenging his own memory and preconceptions, and drawing Lincoln, into the complex and still painful reality of current race relations in America.
In Blind Date (2005), through a collage of stories Jones explores the repercussions of war on individuals, the meaning of patriotism in our time, our sense of civics and ethics. Members of the company – Erick Montes from Mexico, Asli Bulbul from Turkey, and Lin Wen-Chung from Taiwan – contribute to the global puzzle of what their national anthems mean to them, in their mother tongues and with their own dancing.
There is always a symbolic and subversive use in Jones’ employing of 'nomadic memories' – such as Dora Amelan’s or Lance T. Briggs’, in Analogy: Dora Tramontane (2015), Analogy/Lance Aka the Escape Artist, or his dancers’ – as a way to destabilize the exclusive, dominant narrative of history. As the stage becomes a place to creatively re-enact history and re-tell stories, it also allows for re-dreaming possibilities of freedom.
Jones’ debut choreography on Broadway, for which he was awarded a Tony and Obie, for the musical Spring Awakening (2006) brought virtuous and rebellious energy to a popular audience. But it is with both Fela! (2010) and We Shall not Be Moved (2017) that Jones’ theatrical vision bends two more conventional genres with long lasting impact.
Fela! reflects on the journey of self-discovery and political radicalization of the iconic and controversial Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, the creator of Afrobeat. By telling Fela’s story, how he was highly influenced by his contact with black musical traditions and the Black Panthers during his trip to America in the 1960s, Jones creates a powerful source of self-discovery for audiences by connecting them to the historical richness of African-American music and political movements.
In 2017, Jones directed We Shall Not Be Moved, an opera written by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain. We Shall Not Be Moved is a theatrical fantasy which imagines a future for the five children murdered in Philadelphia in 1985 by the police in the aerial bombing of the Move (a black liberation movement group founded in 1972 by John Africa). Under Jones’ direction, the creative team completely re-imagines and actualizes what is possible within opera, and invites the question of what kinds of radical re-imaginings and transformations are still necessary to finally end the consistent horror of police brutality against African Americans.
Jones brings his creative and adventurous process onto the page with his writing as well. Last Night on Earth, Jones’ memoir (1995), which he calls 'performance in text', is a poetic negotiation between storytelling and the written page. The driving force behind his art is articulated: how to resolve and merge the legacy of African American culture with the attraction to abstract art, formalism and the European avant-garde; how to find answers to social and historical inquiries through the study of choreographic forms.
The first chapters are populated by children and landscapes. In performative snapshots Jones, the tenth of twelve siblings, captures his childhood as a journey both geographical – the Jones along with other farming families, left Florida to find work in the more stable North – and spiritual, when in the evening his family gathers, sings, dances, and tells stories. Some belonging to America’s history of violence.
Jones’ sense of longing, and curiosity travels from childhood to his encounter with Arnie Zane. Through the lens of their love for art and for each other, he illuminates their differences, their creative process, and the historical moment in the art world.
The publication of Last Night on Earth represents a turning point in Jones’ life and career. As he reflectively looks back, he can envision his future with the company after Still/Here (1994). Two new creative forces have joined him in life and art: artist and now husband Bjorn Amelan, who will create some of the most remarkable set environments of his future works, and Janet Wong, the now Associate Artistic Director of the company.
His one-minute-long stories written as a response to a virtual conversation with iconic figure, John Cage, on indeterminacy, are central in Story/Time (2012). The stories were read by Jones, center stage, at a desk, while surrounded by the exhilarating actions of his dancers. Within the formal restriction of the 60-second-frame, those stories felt so much more expansive: humorous, solemn, moving. Words disappeared into the movement, as the dancers told an even more compelling story, to reappear again, accompanied by a gasp or a laughter.
Eventually Story/Time shape-shifted into a series of prestigious lectures at Princeton University, and those lectures became a book, which reads as a musical score, and brings one back to the memory of the performance, and if there is no memory – I am willing to bet – to the desire of it. To the invention of it.
Seeing Story/Time at the Jacob’s Pillow festival for the second time, reconnected me to the epiphany of my seeing the BTJ/AZ Dance Company in We Set Out Early…Visibility Was Poor (1998) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I left the theater thinking that that was such a compelling journey, and it became a much, much longer one…
When asked to write a portrait of Bill T. Jones for the Holland Festival, I wondered: how can I create a virtual portrait of someone’s oeuvre so extensively complex, and so many times articulated, in such a short period of time?
The sense of loneliness and isolation that we are all differently and globally experiencing in this dystopian spring confirmed that when we ask ourselves the primordial question how can I? we are longingly thinking ourselves in conversation with others, who inspire us, guide us, drive us mad, keep us company. The living and the dead. Allies gather so we can keep thinking, creating, being enraged, mourning, hoping, being moved and moving forward.
Another Conversation, asconversation is the dynamic modus operandi in which Jones has fully engaged with the world from the very beginning of his career. One could substitute in this case conversation with choreographic action, as in each exchange - serendipitous, and planned as in Bill Chats, from new works to curatorial visioning - ones is relentlessly questioning and challenging himself and his interlocutors. There is always an adventurous movement from point a to point new.
Jean-Luc Nancy writes: 'a portrait issuspended between two extremes: on one hand, it tends toward likeness, and on the other, toward strangeness. On the one hand, it identifies, and on the other, it distances. The first side is that of proximity, recognition, description, and illusion; the second is that of distance, questioning, suggestiveness, and encounter. One could say that presence is the shared border of those two extremes.'
This is an attempt to capture in broad strokes a representative image of a figure always on the move. Ultimately his work will articulate and be that presence.
An associative portrait, documented, open-ended, filled with gaps and expectations. I had you in mind, you who might never have stumbled into a theater where the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company performed. And you, very familiar with the work of the company, nostalgically asking: Do you remember? A sketchbook for all of us, while we await our return in the theater magic to dream together. Something to hold tight until we meet again.
All visitors to Holland Festival are subject to the General Terms and Conditions for Visitors (‘Algemene Bezoekersvoorwaarden VSCD’).
1.1 These General Terms and Conditions for Visitors are applied by all Dutch concert halls, theatres, and other venues that are affiliated with the Association of Theatres and Concert Halls (‘Vereniging van Schouwburg- en Concertgebouwdirecties, VSCD’), as well as by a number of other organisations choose to use them.
1.2 These General Terms and Conditions for Visitors apply to all agreements between the Holland Festival (hereinafter referred to as the 'Festival’) and a Visitor to the Festival. These General Terms and Conditions for Visitors also apply to all actions performed in the execution of this agreement. For the purposes of these General Terms and Conditions for Visitors, 'Visitor' is understood to mean any person or legal entity who enters into an agreement in any way, directly or indirectly, with the Festival with regard to attendance at an event to be organised by the Festival or by a third party in the Festival's venue (hereinafter referred to as 'the venue', which should also be understood to mean that part of the public road adjacent to the venue to which the Festival is in any way entitled for commercial purposes) or any other location used by the Festival. In addition, these General Terms and Conditions for Visitors are applicable to anyone attending any event in the Venue, without the person concerned having entered into an agreement, directly or indirectly, with the Festival.
1.3 The Festival will do everything in its power to ensure that the Visitor's visit to the venue takes place in accordance with their wishes. The Festival will exercise the utmost care with regard to the Visitor. The Festival will also try to ensure that the events in the Venue take place without interruption. The Festival endeavours to limit any discomfort or inconvenience for the Visitor to a minimum and to guarantee the Visitor's safety as much as possible. The Festival is always open to suggestions from the Visitor on how to improve its services. The Visitor can contact the management of the Festival at any time. The Festival apologises for any discomfort or inconvenience that cannot reasonably be avoided.
2.0 Ticket sales/Offers/Prices
2.1 All offers, (programme) announcements, notices, or other information and quotes made by the Festival or by third parties are without obligation. The Festival accepts no liability for any errors in announcements, offers, notices, or other information and quotes made by the Festival and third parties to the Visitor, or for errors made in the sale or advance sale of tickets by third parties, including advance sales outlets.
2.2 If requested to do so, the Visitor must always be able to provide their admission ticket and any ticket entitling them to a discount on this admission ticket to recognisable Festival representatives. The admission ticket must in any case be shown when entering (the relevant area of) the Venue, even if the Visitor has left (the relevant area of) the Venue at any time during an event.
2.3 The Visitor is not entitled to a refund of the admission price or any other compensation (i) in the event of loss or theft of his/her admission ticket or (ii) if the Visitor has obtained the admission ticket from a third party other than the Festival and the third party does not pay the admission price to the Festival for reasons on the third party's part. If for any reason the Visitor does not use the admission ticket, he/she shall bear the cost of that loss.
Once an admission ticket has been obtained, it cannot be exchanged. In such cases, the ticket price will not be refunded, either.
3.0 Prohibition of resale, etc.
3.1 The Visitor is obliged to keep an event admission ticket for their own use, and therefore may not sell it to third parties in any way, to offer it for sale, or to offer it or provide it for commercial purposes.
3.2 The Visitor is obliged vis-à-vis the Festival not to advertise in any way or to make any (other) form of publicity in connection with the event and any part of it if this is done with what the Festival considers the intention of selling or reselling the admission ticket.
3.3 A Visitor who makes their admission ticket available to third parties for non-commercial purposes is obliged to impose the obligations imposed on them as a Visitor, as set out in the preceding paragraphs of this Article, on the person to whom they have provided the admission ticket, and guarantees the Festival that such person(s) will fulfil these obligations.
3.4 If the Visitor fails to fulfil their obligations as set out in the preceding paragraphs of this Article and/or cannot vouch for them, the Visitor will owe the Festival an immediately payable penalty of €10,000 for each infringement and €5,000 for each day that the infringement persists, without prejudice to the Festival's right to demand the Visitor's additional compliance and/or compensation for any monies paid or damage yet to be suffered.
4.0 Stay in the venue
4.1 During his/her stay in the Venue, the Visitor must behave in accordance with public order, good morals, and the rules of decency applicable to the nature of the event they are attending. The Visitor is also obliged to comply with the instructions and instructions given by recognisable Festival representatives. If, in the reasonable opinion of a managerial officer of the Festival, the Visitor in any way contravenes these standards, directions, or instructions, the Visitor may be denied further access to the Venue for the event in question, without the Visitor being able to exercise any right to reimbursement of his/her admission ticket.
4.2 Among other things, the Visitor is prohibited from:
offering for sale, of whatever nature, or providing free of charge goods and written information to third parties in the Venue without the express permission of the management;
bringing (domestic) animals into the Venue;
bringing food and/or (alcoholic) drinks into the venue;
doing anything that a Festival representative considers dangerous and/or annoying to visitors bringing items or substances into the Venue or carrying them with you;
bringing drugs into and/or using them in the venue.
4.3 The Festival can require inspection of any bags carried by the Visitor. In addition, if deemed necessary, specially trained and qualified staff may ask the Visitor to cooperate in a security search. In the event of a refusal to cooperate, the Visitor may be denied (further) access to the Venue without the Visitor having any right to a refund of the price of the admission ticket.
4.4 The Visitor is prohibited from carrying photographic, video, film, sound, or other recording equipment in the venue without the prior written permission of the Festival management and may not use said equipment without the prior written permission of the Festival management. Telephones or other means of wireless communication must be turned off prior to entering the Venue. Recognisable Festival representatives are authorised to demand that any equipment found be handed over and taken into custody during the Visitor's stay in the venue. In the event of refusal to cooperate, the Visitor may be denied (further) access to the Venue, without the Visitor being able to claim any refund of the price of the admission ticket.
4.5 The Festival reserves the right to create video and/or audio recordings of the event at which the Visitor is present. The Visitor shall not object by copyright or other means to the use of their portrait/resemblance as part of the publicity for those events.
4.6 Within the Festival, rules regarding smoking apply in the designated areas. The Visitor is obliged to comply with these smoking regulations. In the event of the Visitor's refusal to cooperate, the Venue Manager is entitled to deny the Visitor (further) access to the Venue, without the Visitor being able to claim any refund of the price of the admission ticket.
5.0 The Festival's liability
5.1 The Visitor's stay in the Venue is at his/her own risk and expense.
5.2 The Festival is only liable for property damage and/or consequential damage suffered by the Visitor or injury caused to the Visitor directly and exclusively as a result of an intentional act or omission or gross negligence on the part of the Festival and/or its representatives, with the proviso that only the only damage eligible for compensation is damage for which the Festival is insured or for which it should have reasonably been insured and for the maximum amount included therein. The Festival's is not liable for, among other things:
special cases in which general safety reasonably requires it, damage as a result of the actions of third parties, including parties hired by the Festival, tenants of (premises in) the venue and persons hired by these third parties;
damage as a result of failure to comply with the instructions given by Festival representatives and failure to comply with the generally applicable rules of decency;
(consequential) damage as a result of unforeseeable changes in the start and end times of the events to which the contract between the Festival and the Visitor relates;
damage in any way caused by other visitors.
5.3 The Festival is never liable for damage suffered by the Visitor as a result of force majeure on the part of the Festival. Force majeure also includes any circumstance beyond the Festival's control - even if this was already foreseeable as a possibility at the time the contract was concluded - that temporarily or permanently prevents fulfilment of the contract and, insofar as not already included, any war, acts of war, civil war, riots, riots, police and/or fire fighting measures, strikes, transport problems, fire and other serious disruptions in the Festival's business or in the venue, weather conditions and, for whatever reason, non-functioning public transport.
6.1 Complaints about the execution of the contract between the Festival and the Visitor must be submitted to the Festival management by registered letter within eight days of the contract being executed or from the time the contract should have been executed. The Festival will not consider complaints submitted after this period.
6.2 Objections are not possible with regard to the following complaints and circumstances, and will therefore never lead to any obligation to pay compensation on the part of the Festival:
complaints and circumstances relating to changes in the programme, including, but not limited to, changes in the person(s) performing, in the composition of the program, event date changes;
complaints and circumstances relating to the quality of the performance of the events to which the contract between the Festival and the Visitor relates;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience caused by other visitors or unlawful intruders including, but not limited to, noise issues, inappropriate behaviour, theft, and harassment; in the event of repeated nuisance or inconvenience by certain visitors to be identified in greater detail, the Festival will do its utmost to prevent these visitors from entering the Festival in the future, if necessary;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience caused by maintenance work on the Venue, or to the consequences of such maintenance work that could reasonably be done at that time;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience caused by the improper functioning of facilities in Venue areas;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience, including limited visibility for the Visitor, caused by (sound) recordings by the media and the technical provisions made in Venue areas as a result;
complaints and circumstances relating to (noise) nuisance caused by events taking place at the same time, including necessary actions that are intended prepare for these events, or that are in any other way related to these events, in other areas of the Venue;
complaints and circumstances relating to the allocation and distribution of seats and/or a change to the seating plan required by circumstances;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience, including a limited view of the stage and surtitles;
complaints and circumstances relating to the presence or absence of surtitles, caused by the inadequate functioning of the technical facilities, or the Festival's choice of whether or not to offer this service;
complaints and circumstances relating to nuisance or inconvenience caused by public transport strikes;
complaints that the Visitor has been denied access to the Venue area because the event had already started in that area.
7 Personal data
7.1 Data relating to the Visitor, including data relating to the Visitor's name, address, and place of residence, recorded by the Festival and/or the Alignment in connection with the issue of an admission ticket, will be included in a record within the meaning of the Personal Data Registration Act (WPR). The Festival and/or the point of sale is the holder of this record.
A copy of the application form pursuant to the WPR of this record is available for inspection at the Festival and the point of sale. If the Visitor does not wish to receive personally addressed information, they can indicate their preference by writing a letter to the Festival.
7.2 The Festival may ask Visitors to identify themselves. If the Visitor is unable to or refuses to provide identification, they may be refused admission to the Festival. In this case, the ticket price will not be refunded.
8.0 Rights of the Festival
8.1 In the event of a breach by the Visitor of (one or more of) the provisions referred to in these General Terms and Conditions, the Festival has the right to cancel the ticket or to refuse the Visitor further access to the event without the Visitor being entitled to a refund of costs paid to the Festival for the ticket (including service costs), whether or not the ticket was purchased at an advance sales outlet. Holders of invalidated entry tickets are not entitled to a refund.
8.2 If it is likely that the ticket has been forged, the Festival may refuse to grant the ticketholder (further) admission to the event, without the Visitor or the ticketholder being able to make claims for any damage that they may suffer as a result.
9.0 Other conditions/rules
9.1 The Festival may add supplementary conditions and/or rules applicable to these General Terms and Conditions.
10.0 Applicable law/Competent court
10.1 Dutch law applies to these General Terms and Conditions for Visitors and the contract between the Visitor and the Festival.
10.2 All disputes arising from the agreement between the Visitor and the Festival will be submitted to the competent court in Amsterdam for exclusive adjudication.
The General Terms and Conditions for Visitors were filed at the Registry of the District Court of Amsterdam on 12 July 2012 under number 66/2012.
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Oratorio for choir, soloists, electronics and orchestra by composer Kate Moore
Accompanying live VR installation by visual artist Ruben van Leer
Music & Libretto Kate Moore
Conductor Brad Lubman
Choir Conductor Daniel Reuss
Didgeridoo Lies Beijerinck
Soprano Alex Oomens
Performed by Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Groot Omroepkoor
Production Holland Festival, NTR Radio
Visual VR Installation
Visual Artist Ruben van Leer
Performer Esther Mugambi
Dramaturgist Martin Butler
Lead Creative coder Victor Martins
Interactive Design Roy Gerritsen
Interactive Coder Tim Gerritsen
Line Producer Rogier van Ostaijen
VR studio Boompje Studio
Costume Design Clifford Portier
Lidar scanning Andrew Borsch
Light design Robert Wit
VR video Peejee Doorduin
Produced by Truth.io & Holland Festival
We wish to acknowledge the custodians of this land, the people of the Wonnarua and Darkinjung nations and their Elders past and present. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this region.
Special thanks to: Nina Frankova, Marion Winkler, Trevor Wilson, Fiona Crain, Stuart McMinn, Leanne King, Phil Sheppard, John Shipp, Stuart Gibson, Rex Thompson, Nerida Moore, Chris Moore. The Holland Festival, Robert Nasveld, NTR, Daniel Reuss, Brad Lubman, Lies Beijerinck, Alex Oomens, Ruben van Leer, Clare Gallagher, Arno Peeters, Gobo Image, Tiemen Rapati, David Zaagsma, Mai Marie Dijksma, Rebecca Baart, Ersinhan Ersin and Vincent Lindeboom (Next Empire)
Cardboards supported by Google Arts & Culture
The VR installation is supported by the AFK
Festival website: www.hollandfestival.net
Project website: www.sacredenvironment.net
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associate artist Holland Festival 2021
Theatre director Gisèle Vienne (1976, Charleville-Mézières) lives and works in Paris. After her studies in philosophy, she studied puppeteering at l’École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette. Human-like figures such as marionettes, mannequins, masks and dolls are a recurring feature in her work. However, she also increasingly works with actors and dancers, whom she directs with a touch in artificiality. In her work, Vienne gives human form to philosophical ideas and shows how opposing desires – for beauty, love and destruction – are more closely related than often thought; she gets under the audience’s skin. Vienne was heavily influenced by the electronic music scene of Berlin in the early nineties, where she lived for three years.
Since 2004, she regularly collaborates with the writer Dennis Cooper and the musicians Peter Rehberg and Stephen O'Malley (co-founder of the experimental metal band Sunn O))). Over the past 20 years, her work has been touring in Europe and regularly performed in Asia and in America, among which I Apologize (2004), Kindertotenlieder (2007), Jerk (2008), This is how you will disappear (2010), LAST SPRING: A Prequel (2011), The Ventriloquists Convention (2015), in collaboration with Puppentheater Halle, and Crowd (2017). In 2020, she created with Etienne Bideau-Rey a fourth version of Showroomdummies at the Rohm Theater Kyoto, originally created in 2001. Her work The Pyre was featured at the 2013 Holland Festival, followed by Crowd in 2018. She also regularly exhibits photos and installations.
Vienne’s new work L'Étang, a coproduction with the Holland Festival, is having its premiere in November in France. It is based on a short play by the Swiss author Robert Walser and is performed by Adèle Haenel (known from Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu) and Ruth Vega Fernandez (Kiss me).
Come to the Holland Festival in Amsterdam after the ISPA Conference in Leeuwarden!
ISPA members get 15% discount on the performances below.
Your coupon code for online ordering is ISPA18
PREFERRED HOTEL: HOTEL CASA
During the Holland Festival you can sleep in the festival hotel Casa. There is a sparkling atmosphere, because all the artists of the festival will be staying in the hotel! The hotel is located in Amsterdam East, one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of the city, with many cool bars, restaurants and museums. Book your room now and benefit from the special rate offer which will be bookable until the 30th of April. The rate is including breakfast and excluding 6% city tax.
2:30 pm Jherek Bischoff, stargaze strings
The composer and multi-instrumentalist Jherek Bischoff has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, David Byrne, Robert Wilson and Neil Gaiman. His work spans a variety of genres such as pop, indie rock, classical music and ambient music. At this concert he will performs his works backed by Stargaze Strings, four players from the ensemble stargaze – which will alsof perform together with Jherek Bischoff in Tribute to Blackstar at the Holland Festival Proms.
5:00 pm Trio Da Kali
In this session, Trio Da Kali plays songs from their own repertoire of contemporary griot music. The Malian trio consists of Hawa Kasse Mady Diabaté (vocals), Mamadou Kouyaté (bass ngoni) and Fodé Lassana Diabaté (balafon). ‘Da kali’ means ‘to swear an oath’, in this case the oath of the griot (a kind of bard and custodian of history) to continue this tradition.
7:45 pm Masterclass David Harrington with Pelargos Kwartet
David Harrington, founder and artistic director of the Kronos Quartet, is giving a public masterclass. He has been working with composers and musicians from all over the world for more than forty years. Under his supervision the Pelargos Kwartet is working on Ken Benshoof’s Sweeter Than Wine, a work from Kronos’s Fifty for the Future repertoire.
1:00 pm Kronos Quartet & Masha Vahdat
For the first concert in the Main Hall, Kronoswill fi rst share the stage with the Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat. She is one of the most influential singers and performers of Persian vocal music. Accompanied by Kronos, she will be singing her own songs and settings of texts by classical Persian poets. The Kronos Quartet is also performing the world premiere of one of the newest commissions from the Fift y for the Future project: Little Black Book by the American electronic producer Jlin, renowned for her dark and futuristic music. Her debut album Black Origami was hailed the best electronic album of the year by Rolling Stone in 2017.
3:45 pm Ragazze Plays Kronos Classics with Kapok
If there is a Dutch string quartet as adventurous as the Kronos Quartet and as eager to explore the discipline’s boundaries, then it is the Ragazze Quartet. At last year’s festival the quartet performed George Crumb’s Black Angels, one of the first compositions in Kronos’s repertoire. In this concert Ragazze will perform its other favourite Kronos classics, including works by composers such as Aleksandra Vrebalov, Terry Riley (with Kapok) and Carlos Paredes (arr. Osvaldo Golijov).
6:15 pm Kronos Quartet & Vân-Ánh Võ & Jherek Bischoff
Vân-Ánh Võ is a Vietnamese-American musician and Emmy Award winning composer who combines traditional Vietnamese instruments with influences from around the world. Together with Kronos, she will take the audience on a musical journey through Vietnam. In the second half of the concert the Kronos Quartet will share the stage with the American musician and composer Jherek Bischoff, who has been described as ‘the connecting factor’ between pop, rock and classical music.
9:00 pm Kronos Quartet & Trio Da Kali
The highlight of the full-day of the Kronos Quartet at the Muziekgebouw is Kronos’ concert with the Malian Trio Da Kali.
Please note: For this concert you need to order a separate ticket (sold out).
setlist Kronos Quartet / Ragazze
1 pm Kronos Quartet
Mario Galeano Toro / Microsurco de Liebre *
Philip Glass / Quartet Satz *
Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire
Jlin (arr. Jacob Garchik) / Little Black Book *
Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire
Wu Man (arr. Danny Clay) / Four Chinese Paintings: IV. Silk and Bamboo 丝与竹 *
Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire
1:30 pm Kronos Quartet & Mahsa Vahdat
Mahsa Vahdat (arr. Sahba Aminikia) / The Sun Rises +
The Sun Will Rise
My Ruthless Companion
Mahsa Vahdat (arr. Atabak Elyasi) / Dead yet I was, then came to life +
Mahsa Vahdat (arr. Sahba Aminikia) / Kurdish Song +
3:45 pm Ragazze play Kronos Classics
Tusen Tankar (swedish traditional)
Alexandra Vrebalov / Hold me neighbour in this storm
Carlos Paredes (arr. Osvaldo Golijov) / Anhos Verdes
Terry Riley (arr. Kapok en Ragazze) / Sunrise of the planetary dream collector
6:15 pm Kronos Quartet & Vân-Ánh Võ
Traditional/Kim Sinh (arr. Jacob Garchik) / Lưu thủy trường +
Jonathan Berger / My Lai Lullaby *
written in collaboration with David Harrington and Vân-Ánh Võ
Henry Purcell (arr. Vân-Ánh Võ) / The Cold Song from King Arthur +
John Dowland (arr. Kronos Quartet and Vân-Ánh Võ) / Lachrymæ Antiquæ +
Gustav Mahler(arr. Kronos) / Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen +
6:45 pm Kronos Quartet & Jherek Bischoff
Konono No1 (arr. Jherek Bischoff) / Kule Kule +
Jherek Bischoff / A Semiperfect Number *
Jherek Bischoff / Flying Rivers *
Jherek Bischoff / Stranger *
Jimi Hendrix (arr. Steve Riffkin) / Purple Haze +
9:00 pm Kronos Quartet & Trio da Kali
Selection of CD Ladilikan:
God Shall Wipe All Tears Away
Eh Ya Ye
* Written for Kronos
+ Arranged for Kronos
2:30 pm Masterclass Sunny Yang & John Sherba with De Formule
Sunny Yang and John Sherba give a public masterclass. Under their supervision, De Formule is working on Laurie Anderson’s Shutter Island, a work from Kronos’s Fifty for the Future.
5:00 pm Masha Vahdat, Tord Gustavsen
The songs of Iranian Mahsa Vahdat are based on the Persian vocal tradition of classical and regional folk music, but with a contemporary expression. She composes most of her songs herself, often with poems by classical Persian poets like Hafez and Rumi. Here, she performs with Norwegian jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen.
7:45 Vân-Ánh Võ
The Vietnamese musician Vân-Ánh Võ, who lives in America, is one of the most prominent players of Vietnamese instruments, such as the đàn tranh (a string instrument). In this concert she merges music from different regions of Vietnam with contemporary soundscapes. She also plays adaptations of American music for her instruments.
from 2:00 pm films
Kronos has played many memorable soundtracks.
2:00 - 5:00 pm - Heat (1995)
music Elliot Goldenthal, direction Michael Mann
5:00 - 6:30 pm - Dracula (1931)
music Philip Glass, direction Tod Browning
7:45 - 8:30 pm - Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 (2014)
music Aleksandra Vrebalov, direction Bill Morrison
8:45 - 10:30 pm - Requiem for a Dream (2000)
music Clint Mansell, direction Darren Aronofsky
2:30 pm Masterclass Hank Dutt with Babylon Quartet
The Kronos Quartet’s Hank Dutt (viola) is giving a public masterclass. Supervised by Dutt , the Babylon Quartet is working on Garth Knox’s Satellites, a composition from Kronos’s Fifty for the Future.
5:00 pm Fifty for the Future Talk
Today, on the day of the Kronos Sessions, the five newest compositions from the Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future project are being presented. The release of these brand-new works by Islam Chipsy, Aft ab Darvishi, Philip Glass, Onutė Narbutaitė and Yevgeniy Sharlat, means that 25 of the 50 planned works have now been published. In a lively panel discussion with many images and sound clips, Janet Cowperthwaite (the Kronos Quartet’s managing director), David Harrington (violinist and founder of Kronos) and Jochem Valkenburg (the Holland Festival’s programming director music and music theatre) will take stock, halfway through this ground-breaking composition project. The Holland Festival is a Fifty for the Future legacy partner.
7:45 pm Ebonit Saxophone Quartet
This Dutch saxophone quartet did a master class at the Holland Festival two years ago with Kronos Quartet’s Hank Dutt. They worked with him on Sunjata’s Time by Fodé Lassana Diabaté (Trio Da Kali). This year they are performing this work at their own concert during the Kronos Sessions, alongside works by Philip Glass and Tristan Keuris.
FOYERDECK 1 - FIFTY FOR THE FUTURE STAGE
Up-and-coming string quartets from the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and the Dutch String Quartet Academy are playing on the special Fifty for the Future stage. Each quartet is playing a composition it has selected from Kronos’s Fifty for the Future repertoire. Throughout the day they will be working with one of the Kronos Quartet’s members on this composition in one of the public masterclasses.
2:00 pm Babylon Quartet
The Babylon Quartet is an innovative string quartet with a repertoire that includes Haydn, Stravinsky and Britten, as well as The Beatles and Radiohead. Its members compose their own music too. The quartet won the Big Chamber Music Award in 2015. It was awarded the Kersjes Fonds String Quartet Scholarship in 2016. The Babylon Quartet has played at The Concertgebouw, De Doelen, TivoliVredenburg and Muziekgebouw Eindhoven and consists of Leonid Nikishin (violin), Danielle Daoukayeva (violin), Kellen McDaniel (viola) and William McLeish (cello). Babylon Quartet is playing the Irish violist and composer Garth Knox’s Satellites.
3:15 pm Pelargos Kwartet
The Pelargos Kwartet consists of Hadewych de Vos (violin), Kaja Majoor (violin), Anna Jurriaanse (viola) and Wilma de Bruijn (cello). All its members study at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. The quartet participated in the Prinses Christina Concours in Rotterdam and won the Ensemble Incentive Award. The Pelargos Kwartet is playing the American composer Ken Benshoof’s composition Sweeter Than Wine. ‘A good challenge for us, which will help us further develop our ensemble.’
4:30 pm De Formule
De Formule has five members: Laura Lunansky, Coraline Groen, Michiel Wittink, Rogier Tamminga and Rik Kuppen. In various combinations they play new music in varied programmes. The members play instruments loaned from the Dutch Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds. The ensemble won the Big Chamber Music Award in March 2018. De Formule is playing the American composer Laurie Anderson’s Shutter Island.
associate artist Holland Festival 2021
Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952, Tokyo) has lived many musical lives in his nearly 70 years. As a keyboardist and songwriter in Haruomi Hosono’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, he helped set the stage for technopop.
His solo experiments in fusing global genres and close studies of classical impressionism led to him scoring nearly forty films in as many years, including Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983), Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987), The Sheltering Sky (1990), and the Academy Award-winning film The Revenant (2015) by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
In the past 20 years alone, he’s written a multimedia opera, turned a glass building into an instrument, and travelled to the Arctic to record the sound of melting snow. That exploratory spirit runs through Sakamoto’s 2017 album, async, which paints an audio portrait of the passing of time informed by his recovery from throat cancer. ‘Music, work, and life all have a beginning and an ending,’ said Sakamoto in early 2019. ‘What I want to make now is music freed from the constraints of time.’
Since the mid-nineties, Sakamoto has devoted much of his time to environmental and pacifist causes, which is also reflected in his work, as in the opera LIFE (1999). He has launched charitable organisations and beginning in 2012, organised the yearly ongoing music event NO NUKES, which many well-known artists, including Kraftwerk, took part in to protest nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster.
His accolades include an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a Grammy, the Order of the Cavaleiro Admissão from the Brazilian government and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. Sakamoto was featured with Alva Noto at the 2006 Holland Festival with insen.
Sakamoto is collaborating with the multi-disciplinary artist Shiro Takatani on Time, an unconventional opera which is also a coproduction with the Holland Festival.
A whole new world opened up when I first heard Stockhausen’s music. It was as if the definition of what music could be had been expanded.’ At a panel discussion at Amsterdam Dance Event, the British producer Darren Cunningham asserted that Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) was extremely important, if not ‘life changing’, in his musical development. Under the pseudonym Actress, he has been pushing musical boundaries in techno with international success. It was Stockhausen, he says, who showed him the path less travelled. Cunningham is not the only one. Since Stockhausen acquired cult status, beginning in the middle of the previous century, artists from The Beatles to Björk, Brian Eno and Miles Davis have cited him as a source of inspiration. He also became – and still is – of immense significance to fellow composers. As composer Michel van der Aa put it when Stockhausen died: ‘I think he is in the musical residue of every contemporary composer.'
Whether you agree with him or not: you always have to take him into account.’ Stockhausen was a tireless innovator, who greatly influenced music history. He was one of the first to compose electronic music, move the music (and sometimes the musicians) through the concert hall so that the sound no longer statically emanated from the stage, and deploy instrumentalists theatrically: not only singers, but also clarinettists or trumpet players could interpret characters. He also developed many new musical forms, tools and methods, including a scale of twelve tempos analogous to the chromatic pitch scale, and ‘intuitive music’ which relies heavily on the musicians’ collective imaginations.
These innovations would have been musicological footnotes if the vast majority of his music had not sounded so convincing and overwhelming, testifying to his flawless ear, masterly control over the resulting sound, and an unmatched sense of sound and structure. From his early, electronic Gesang der Jünglinge or his young masterpiece Gruppen für drei Orchester to the hushed final notes of DONNERSTAG aus LICHT, from the meditative mantras in Stimmung to the full-surround swirling COSMIC PULSES: hearing these pieces once, preferably live, will leave an unforgettable impression on you.
Stockhausen’s ambitions were literally sky high (HELIKOPTER-STREICHQUARTETT), and regularly even more exulted (COSMIC PULSES, Sirius, Sternklang). They are not gimmickry – as is sometimes alleged, especially about the helicopter quartet. Rather, Stockhausen simply followed artistic ideas through to their ultimate consequences. After making full use of the musical possibilities of the space in a concert hall in early compositions, the ultimate next step would be to get the music to actually take to the air. It also makes dramaturgical sense as a scene in the opera MITTWOCH, in which air is the central element, a debate about love has already been held atop a skyscraper, and auditions for a heavenly orchestra take place high in the air.
This unbridled imagination and ambition, suffused with the need to think big and when necessary beyond all bounds give Stockhausen’s oeuvre a sublime quality. Consequently, it is not surprising that it puts off or even repels some people. Neither is it difficult for sceptics to find aspects of Stockhausen’s work and life to ridicule. For instance, LICHT’s idiosyncratic theology, his flirtation with the controversial spiritual book Urantia, and the autobiographical myth about his birth on the star Sirius. This is overshadowed by his impolitic comment – taken out of context by journalists eager for a scoop – on the 9/11 attacks, which Stockhausen said demonstrated that Lucifer, the representative of evil, still exists. Yet this is the same oeuvre with the same limitlessness that continues to fascinate, inspire, and enchant musicians and listeners as well as artists to this day.
At the upcoming festival several composers are working on the implications of Stockhausen’s work. Colin Benders is working on a larger scale than ever, departing from the simple stereo of electronic dance music, with a spatially arranged ‘electro-symphonic orchestra’. Michel van der Aa, like Stockhausen, often composes the theatrical aspects of his music. He aims to use virtual reality to achieve a spatial experience of music theatre in Eight. Actress is presenting a twenty-first century counterpart to Stockhausen’s WELT-PARLAMENT, in which he is breaking new ground by using artificial intelligence to generate music. Using the latest electronic resources in their music is self-evident to all three composers. How different things were when Stockhausen made his first electronic compositions.
The ultimate Stockhausen experience is the three-day marathon performance aus LICHT, composed of scenes from Stockhausen’s magnum opus – the seven-part opera cycle LICHT. Many music students in The Hague are following a special LICHT master’s programme designed specifically for this purpose and will also be playing with the professionals. They are already making many discoveries during rehearsals, giving expressions such as ‘live changing’ meaning once more. aus LICHT, a historic project, could well be the opera event of the year. At least as important, and more relevant than ever, is its implicit message. Like the rest of Stockhausen’s oeuvre, it is an affirmation that you should pursue your dreams – in music, and beyond.