They were an odd couple of dance: Bill T. Jones: tall, strapping, Black, from rural New York state, and Arnie Zane, a wiry short Jewish boy from the Bronx. Both fiercely out, gay, in love, and political.
In 1982, after 11 years of collaboration, they struck out on their own, founding the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in NYC. Six years later, Zane succumbed to AIDS. The grieving Jones decided to continue the company and began on a commission from St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra for a piece choreographed to Mendelssohn’s Octet.
“In the company at that time was Demian Acquavella, known as ‘D-Man’… Demian was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS only months after Arnie’s death. As the dance was choreographed, Demianʼs health deteriorated. What started as a lighthearted ballet about the movement of water became a penetrating comment on surviving the deluge of a plague. Galvanized by Demian’s struggle, and the struggle of countless others around him who were contracting AIDS, Jones expanded the dance into four fervent movements and named it D-Man in the Waters.” (The Directors)
This stunning to watch doc revisits D-Man in the Waters as a group of college students reconstruct it in 2016 under the tutelage of an alumna of the troupe, co-director Rosalynde LeBlanc. “Can you bring it?” is Jones’s exhortation, as he urges the students to find the emotional underpinnings of the work.
Cosponsored with LGBT Studies & the LGBT Resource Center.