New York Live Arts Announces Celebration Season

The coming season at New York Live Arts, announced Thursday, will include two important milestones: the 10th anniversary of the arts organization and the 40th anniversary of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, its resident troupe.

“I think Arnie would be pleased,” said Bill T. Jones, Live Arts’ artistic director, in an interview. (Arnie Zane, the company’s other founder, died in 1988, at 39, of an AIDS related illness.) “That 40th anniversary says something to the culture about what a marginalized couple, as he and I were, can do in the long haul; and that we can actually graft onto other communities.”

The success and durability of Live Arts “is even more momentous in a way,” Jones added. “Time in the art world is compressed so that 10 years, next to 40 years of the company, they have the same weight for me in a way.”

The fall performance programming will begin on Sept. 15 with “Light and Desire,” a Live Arts commission by the choreographer, dancer and educator Colleen Thomas exploring, according to press materials, “how women hold, embody and express power through their own radical expression during fascist times.”

Later in the month, the focus will shift off site, to the Park Avenue Armory, where Jones’s “Deep Blue Sea,” a work that draws on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and “Moby Dick,” will receive its premiere. The large-scale dance, set to music and sound by Nick Hallett, Hprizm aka High Priest, Rena Anakwe and Holland Andrews, will begin with a solo by Jones, who hasn’t performed with the company for 15 years, and grow until it includes 100 performers from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and other New Yorkers.

After completing the run at the Armory, the group will perform “Afterwardsness,” a piece Jones created earlier in the pandemic, in Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Another Live Arts commission, Christopher Williams’s “Narcissus,” comes at the end of October. The evening-length ballet reimagines the Ballets Russes dance “Narcisse et Echo” by looking at the Greek myth on which it’s based “through a contemporary queer lens.” In December, “WEDNESDAY,” a dance-theater piece by Raja Feather Kelly about Liz Eden — the real-life figure on whom the character Leon in the movie “Dog Day Afternoon” is loosely based — will cap the fall season’s debuts.

Other offerings include an exhibition of paintings by Bjorn Amelan and Sasha Velour’s autobiographical drag show “Smoke & Mirrors.”

In addition to its performance slate, Live Arts announced the start of an initiative aimed at increasing artist compensation. As a part of the effort, called the Fund for Equity, members of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company will now receive an annual salary that is not tied to a touring and rehearsal schedule.

In a statement, Kim Cullen, the organization’s executive director and chief executive, said: “The goal of the Fund for Equity is to create a model that is more economically sufficient, providing equitable wages for artists that tangibly value their skills as we say we do.”

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