Press Release

World Premiere of Deep Blue Sea by Bill T. Jones, Featuring the Renowned Choreographer in Performance with 100 Dancers and Community Members, Opens at Park Avenue Armory this April

New York, NY
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New Armory Commission Features Visual Environment Designed by Elizabeth Diller and Peter Nigrini

April 14 – 25, 2020

This April, renowned director, choreographer, and dancer Bill T. Jones presents and performs in the world premiere of his monumental new work, Deep Blue Sea, at Park Avenue Armory, marking Jones’ first time performing in fifteen years. Using deconstructed texts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the highly personal work explores the interplay of single and group identities and the pursuit of the elusive “we” during fractious times.

The work commences with a solo by Jones and builds into a collective performance featuring 100 community members and dancers led by Jones and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Conceived for the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Deep Blue Sea magnifies the vast space through a design by Elizabeth Diller of the renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and projections by Tony Award-nominated projection designer Peter Nigrini (Beetlejuice, Fela!), with a sonic backdrop created by composer Nick Hallett and music producer Hprizm aka High Priest with Holland Andrews. Deep Blue Sea is commissioned by the Armory and Manchester International Festival in collaboration with the Holland Festival, and produced and developed in collaboration with New York Live Arts. Performances will run from April 14 to April 25, 2020.

“Through commissions like Deep Blue Sea, the Armory provides artists the support and the space to expand their creative practices in ways that would be unimaginable elsewhere. With this new work, Bill has harnessed the power and majesty of our Drill Hall to create a lyrical piece that is immense in size, emotion, and ambition,” said Rebecca Robertson, Founding President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. “Weaving diverse members of our local communities into his choreography adds a meaningful new dimension to Deep Blue Sea and continues the Armory’s precedent of creating programming of global stature that speaks to the many different communities we serve.”

“Bill T. Jones has long possessed a particular adroitness for harnessing the power of dance as both a narrative medium and a means to address contemporary issues. Intertwining his dynamic choreographic style with elements of spoken word, music, and design, Deep Blue Sea is a crowning achievement for Jones and a perfect embodiment of the kind of interdisciplinary work we are committed to commissioning,” said the Armory’s Marina Kellen French Artistic Director Pierre Audi.

“Performing alongside the young, robust ensemble of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and the dynamic group of 90 community members gives me hope in these fractious times,” said Bill T. Jones. “The constantly morphing, evocatively weaving designs of Liz Diller and Peter Nigrini, as well as the emotionally complex score by Nick Hallett performed by Hprizm and Holland Andrews with a select group of vocalists, underscore the poignancy and power of the elusive ‘we’ this piece is in the pursuit of.”

A MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer (Spring Awakening, Fela!) revered internationally for his skill at storytelling through movement, Jones conceived this work as a creative response both to his own life and the pursuit of unity and community in divisive times. A collage of personal and textual references, Deep Blue Sea examines our desire for community and the vision of collective redemption.

In conjunction with Deep Blue Sea, the Armory will host an artist talk on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:00pm featuring Bill T. Jones and Elizabeth Diller in discussion about the process of creating this expansive new work for the Drill Hall. 

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Bill T. Jones, work-in-progress performance of Deep Blue Sea at LUMBERYARD, 2019. Photo: Maria Baranova

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