Lively evening with Bill T. Jones and his sources of inspiration

Associations

Bill T. Jones and guests

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With great regret, the Holland Festival 2020 has been cancelled. more info

What does composer John Cage mean to Bill T. Jones? What is Jones’ relationship with the work of other black artists, such as composer Julius Eastman or writer James Baldwin? Analogous to the adage ‘show me your books and I’ll tell you who you are’, Jones will share his worldview and perspective on art’s meaning and process through a series of works he has selected, most of which will be performed live by Dutch artists. Jones will provide introductions and commentary and exchange thoughts with moderator Ikenna Azuike about high and low, black and white art and ‘The Funk’. Marcel Proust, Richard Avedon, Gertrude Stein, Robert Longo, Nina Simone and Cecil Taylor are all featured. At Jones’ request, Sabrina Starke will be performing a traditional African American lullaby will be performed, sung in the style of the singer and activist Odetta, often referred to as ‘the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement’. Jones is hoping for an evening that will ‘expand minds and open hearts’.

biographies

Choreographer, dancer, director and writer Bill T. Jones (1952, United States) studied classical ballet and modern dance at the State University of New York in the 1970s.

After having lived in Amsterdam for a time, Jones and his partner Arnie Zane joined the experimental choreographers’ collective American Dance Asylum. In 1982 they founded Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Jones created more than a hundred works for his company, and in addition he has had large-scale works commissioned by major companies such as the Boston Ballet, the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon and the Staatsballett Berlin. Since 2011 he has been the artistic director of New York Live Arts in Manhattan.

Jones has become increasingly interested in other disciplines, such as literature and musical theatre. He also perceives that as the body changes with age, dance changes and so do, he says, ‘your ambitions as an artist... I think older artists have a wider range. They do more with less, so in that sense they’re more strategic and stronger.’

His relationship with the Holland Festival goes back to 1981, with Valley Cottage, one of the duets that Jones and Arnie Zane had created in The Kitchen in New York. Works such as D-Man in the Waters (1991) and the controversial and confrontational production Still Here (1996) were frequently presented in the Netherlands between 1991 and 2007 by Het Muziektheater as part of their guest programming series. In 2011 the Holland Festival presented his award-winning musical Fela!, and in 2019 the Opera Forward Festival presented the opera We Shall Not Be Moved, which Jones directed and choreographed. This year he is an associate artist with the Holland Festival, where several of his works will be presented, including the large-scale, ambitious Deep Blue Sea.

Jones has received many awards for his multifaceted work, from a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award in 1994 to Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2014 and won a Tony for Best Choreography for his work on Spring Awakening (2007) and Fela! (2010). In 2010 the French government named him an ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’; he has received honorary doctorates from the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, Juilliard School, Yale University, and other institutions. In 2013 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama and he received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in 2016.

Ensemble Klang

Founded in 2003 and based in The Hague, Ensemble Klang is focused on both the new generation of composers – such as Peter Adriaansz, Kate Moore, Andrew Hamilton, Matthew Wright and Roi Nachson – and more established names such as Heiner Goebbels, Martijn Padding and Louis Andriessen. Ensemble Klang is one of the most exciting ensembles in Dutch contemporary music today, with what is by now an impressive repertoire of works written especially for them. The combination of saxophones, trombone, keyboards, percussion and guitar enables them to make a distinctive yet versatile sound ranging from fragile and intimate to the driving force behind a big band.

The ensemble performs without a conductor; a typical Ensemble Klang programme combines complex music that demands virtuoso precision, with a breathtaking level of musical risk. All of the ensemble’s members enjoy working together and do so regularly: virtually every season sees the ensemble working on musical theater, site-specific and dance projects. ‘Klang members’ feel equally at home in the concert hall, in the open air at a festival or in a pop venue.

Ikenna Azuike

The British-Nigerian Ikenna Azuike (1979) emigrated to London at the age of 8. He studied law at University College and graduated in 2002, then began his career with large law firms such as Shearman & Sterling and Clifford Chance, working in London, the United States and elsewhere. In 2008 he decided to make a radical change in his life. He moved to Amsterdam with his Dutch wife, and founded a creative agency for sustainability called Strawberry Earth.

In the Netherlands, he began as a trainee journalist with the Wereldomroep broadcasting company working on a radio programme called Bridges With Africa. Feeling that the picture of Africa painted by Western media lacked balance, he decided to develop a video blog. What’s Up Africa was inspired by Jon Stewart, the former host of the American satirical news shows The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The show was a huge success, running for six seasons on BBC World News and earning a nomination for an Association of International Broadcasters’ Award.

Azuike is a popular TEDx speaker, interviewer and moderator. In 2014 he was named one of the 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine. In the summer of 2019, the BNNVARA TV network broadcast his programme Planeet Nigeria, a 6-segment television series in which he explores his native country and the lives of normal Nigerians.

Sabrina Starke

Born in Paramaribo and raised in Rotterdam, Sabrina Starke is a multi-talented, award-winning singer-songwriter and producer as well as a ´self-empowerment´ ambassador. She has won two Edison Awards – in 2009 as Best Newcomer and the Edison Jazzism People’s Choice – and two Radio 6 Awards (Best Album in 2013 and Best Song 2015). With her powerful, melodious voice, Starke has firmly established herself in the top ranks of Dutch soul singers.

In October 2008, her solo debut album Yellow Brick Road (2008) was released on the prestigious Blue Note Label, with an acclaimed appearance on Dutch talk show De Wereld Draait Door. Starke’s album, which stayed on the charts for 52 consecutive weeks before eventually going platinum. Starke works soul, folk, hip-hop and blues into a contemporary sound, which is also a feature of her sixth and most recent studio album Underneath The Surface from 2018. In 2021 she will continue her tour of The Story of Nina Simone, performed with the 17-piece Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw.

In recent years Sabrina Starke has appeared frequently on television; she is part of the programme De beste zangers van Nederland, and was also on Expeditie Robinson in 2014. She was also part of the Netherlands’ specialist jury in the 2019 Eurovision Song Festival. Since 2015 Starke has also been devoting herself to her new mission, using her creative talents and music to inspire and empower others.

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Credits

moderator
Ikenna Azuike
performed by
a.o. Ensemble Klang
vocals
Sabrina Starke

This performance was made possible with support by