Bill T. Jones Returns to the Dance Center with “Story/Time” (preview)

70 stories in 70 minutes.

Bill T. Jones’ 2012 dance score is strikingly reminiscent of the late Merce Cunningham. Jones attributes the inspiration of Story/Time to Cunningham’s musical counterpart John Cage, whose 1959 Indeterminacy consisted of Cage himself sitting onstage telling one-minute stories. The method is not new, but Story/Time is authentically Bill T. Jones, who appears onstage seated at a table surrounded by green apples, and proceeds to tell (or in some cases sing) a story a minute into a microphone, narrating the dancing unfolding around him by his company of dancers.  Many of the stories are about his life, or his experiences, or have been passed down through his family. Each minute of dancing accompanies the story at hand, but is determined through a chance device and performed alongside live sound mixing from composer Ted Coffrey.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, photo by Paul B. Goode
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, photo by Paul B. Goode

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is no stranger to Chicago, nor to the Dance Center of Columbia College, who hosts the Chicago premiere of Story/Time next weekend. On the heels of a big celebration at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Jones (whose company celebrates 30 years this season) has performed at the Dance Center across the span of its 40 year history; this sixth appearance is among an impressive line-up of local, national, and international companies presented for the DC’s 40th anniversary season.

The company’s Chicago residency will include a post-performance conversation with the artists after Thursday’s performance, and a pre-show talk with Associate Artistic Director Janet Wong Friday at 7 p.m. (free for ticket holders). Wong also will participate in The Dance Center’s new DanceMakers series, which features leading contemporary dance artists offering insight into their choreographic process. DanceMakers is a free event occurring Wednesday, October 23, 10am – noon at the Fine Arts Building (410 S. Michigan Ave).

Note: This program contains nudity and some mature content.

Read my post-show comments about Story/Time at SeeChicagoDance

The Dance Center presents Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company October 24–26, 2013, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. at The Dance Center (1306 S. Michigan Ave). Tickets are $26–30 available at the box office, by phone (312-369-8330) or online at

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.