This month, I’m involved in a special project commissioned by the Massachusetts state humanities agency: publishing three very different perspectives on choreographer Bill T. Jones’ Serenade/The Proposition, the first work he did for Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial. I first saw the work soon after its premiere, in 2008. Jacob’s Pillow will be presenting the company in the work July 21-25 and I’ve invited two novice dance critics to respond: John Stauffer, a historian of the Civil War from Harvard, and Miriam Ornstein, a Boston-area child psychiatrist who will be attending with her 11-year old dancer daughter and her senior citizen mother.
The complete coverage will be on the Arts Fuse page; read the section under “Judicial Review” for details on our experiment in arts criticism.
I’m gratified that I was able to do something I only occasionally was able to do when I worked for NPR’s much-missed WBUR Online Arts blog — link to clips of the work I am describing. This is of course thanks to Bill T. Jones and his collaborator, video artist Janet Wong, who have been forward-thinking about making Bill’s work available across media platforms.
Think about what happens in a volume of art history when the text is juxtaposed to a color plate of the painting under discussion: good, right? This, I’m convinced, is the shape of the multimedia arts criticism to come, incorporating “fair use” excerpts of work we want to engage with, across disciplines.
Language is still a worthy accompaniment: if I do my job right, it will whet the appetite of audiences who are exposed the work from afar, but I’m even more excited at the possibility of using the combination of literary description and analysis with video elements to help audiences experience the work in front of them more deeply.