Final Chapter of Bill T. Jones' Chapel/Chapter

Last year in Boston, I had the opportunity to be a part of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s production of Chapel/Chapter, performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Chapel/Chapter is a gripping multimedia performance that questions how we evaluate and judge devastating and violent events. In Boston, the Company wanted to include local dancers, and as a Boston Conservatory dance student only a subway ride away, I gladly volunteered. In the performance I acted as a guide for sightless dancers, I shouted answers in a mock game-show, and howled into the audience before reciting a final prayer.  

This past weekend, the Company presented the final performances of Chapel/Chapter at the Harlem Gatehouse in New York, where it premiered in 2006. This time though, I was part of the audience. Though this performance (different because of new casting) was compelling, breath-taking and chillingly beautiful, it was hard for me not to miss the cast of which I had been (however briefly) a part.

It is the impermanence of performance that I love most about dance—how everything hangs on the precise moment, and how an artist can bring new insights and interpretations to each movement. Two dancers can perform the same steps with the same qualities and effort, yet their movement will always be noticeably and gloriously different.

What happened on the Gatehouse in 2006, or even at the ICA last year can never be reproduced; I applaud the dancers for sharing new expressions of Mr. Jones’ masterpiece.  They took risks and new approaches to their characters that replicated, but did not impersonate the previous shows.  

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