Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

Bill T. Jones is a choreographer who has been staging performances for over thirty years. Working against traditional dance, Jones' work is defined by its wild contortions and nonstandard interpretations. In 2007, Jones was commissioned to stage a dance piece with his company about the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. For two years, Jones is captured on in this documentary, directing and constantly retooling his production while typically going against conventions and asking the difficult question of was Lincoln a good man. Jones is an enigmatic figure, dominant, controlling, intelligent and self-doubting. "A Good Man" is fascinating the way it gives us a glimpse into his mind and creative process, as is the reaction of his colleagues and students to his demanding temperament. I found this "American Masters" entry to be an engaging look at the staging process, but found it lost steam once it reached the end of rehearsal for the performance. When the constantly changing work is finally ready, we are not shown any of the finished product, and the film abruptly ends, leaving many of Jones' numerous questions left unanswered.