Dancers point dramatically in different directions while performing What Problem? by Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Company.
CPA Series

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

What Problem?
Memorial Hall
February 4 & 5, 2022
8 PM

Tickets available starting at $20. Tickets are sold by section for the 21/22 season. Very limited $10 UNC Student tickets available with proof of UNC OneCard.

“For the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line . . . the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men . . . And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,— peculiar even for one who has never been anything else.” 
– W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903)  

Join us for the internationally recognized Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s latest work What Problem?, a stunning performance that provokes the tension between belonging to a community and the feelings of isolation that many feel during these divisive political times.  

Jones conceived of this highly personal piece—adapted from his massive 2020 work, Deep Blue Sea—in pursuit of the elusive “we.” What Problem? includes a cast of local community members, a deconstructed text from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and themes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  

Jones reflects on King’s immortal words, “we shall overcome,” mixed with the scripture of our democracy as formed and shaped by the words, “we the people.” In our fractious era, What Problem? explores sexual politics, gender identity, class struggles and immigration. 

Runtime: approximately 90 minutes. Masks required at all times while inside CPA venues during the 21/22 season. For additional health and safety information and more, visit our FAQ page.

About Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1982-present) was born out of an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948–1988). During this time, they redefined the duet form and foreshadowed issues of identity, form and social commentary that would change the face of American dance. The Company emerged onto the international scene in 1983 with the world premiere of Intuitive Momentum, which featured legendary drummer Max Roach, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since then, the Company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 35 countries on every major continent. Today, the Company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world.

Learn more about the company

The repertory of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company is widely varied in its subject matter, visual imagery and stylistic approach to movement, voice and stagecraft and includes music-driven works as well as works using a variety of texts. The Company has been acknowledged for its intensely collaborative method of creation that has included artists as diverse as Keith Haring, Cassandra Wilson, The Orion String Quartet, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, Fred Hersch, Jenny Holzer, Robert Longo, Julius Hemphill, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and Anne Bogart/SITI Company, among others. The collaborations of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company with visual artists were the subject of Art Performs Life (1998), a groundbreaking exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Some of its most celebrated creations are evening length works including Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990, Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music); Still/Here (1994, Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France); We Set Out Early… Visibility Was Poor (1996, Hancher Auditorium,Iowa City, IA); You Walk? (2000, European Capital of Culture 2000,Bolgna, Italy); Blind Date (2006, Peak Performances at Montclair State University); Chapel/Chapter (2006, Harlem Stage Gatehouse); and Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray (2009, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL), Analogy Trilogy (2015-2017).

The Company has received numerous awards, including New York Dance and Performance Awards (“Bessie”) for Chapel/Chapter at Harlem Stage (2006), The Table Project (2001), D-Man in the Waters (1989, 2001, 2013), musical scoring and costume design for Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1990) and for the groundbreaking Joyce Theater season (1986). The Company was nominated for the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Dance and Best New Dance Production” for We Set Out Early… Visibility was Poor.

The Company has distinguished itself through extensive community outreach and educational programs, including partnerships with Bard College, Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, California. University and college dance programs throughout the U.S. work with the Company to reconstruct significant works for their students. The Company conducts intensive workshops for professional and pre-professional dancers and produces a broad range of discussion events at home and on the road, all born from the strong desire to “participate in the world of ideas.”

In 2010, the Company announced a groundbreaking merger with Dance Theater Workshop that The New York Times said could “alter the contemporary dance landscape in New York.” The organization, called New York Live Arts, strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting and educating. For more information:

About the Artists

Bill T. Jones

Bill T. Jones (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer), a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, has received major honors ranging from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Mr. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010, inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the new musical co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award.

Arnie Zane

Arnie Zane (1948-1988) (Co-Founder/Choreographer) was a native New Yorker born in the Bronx and educated at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. In 1971, Mr. Zane and Bill T. Jones began their long collaboration in choreography
and in 1973 formed the American Dance Asylum in Binghamton with Lois Welk. Mr. Zane’s first recognition in the arts came as a
photographer when he received a Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) Fellowship in 1973. Mr. Zane was the recipient of a second
CAPS Fellowship in 1981 for choreography, as well as two Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1983 and 1984). In 1980, Mr. Zane was co-recipient, with Mr. Jones, of the German Critics Award for his work, Blauvelt Mountain. Rotary Action, a duet with Mr. Jones, was filmed for television, co-produced by WGBH-TV Boston and Channel 4 in London. Continuous Replay: The Photographs of Arnie Zane was published by MIT Press in April 1999.

Credits for What Problem?

Creator & Director Bill T. Jones
Associate Director Janet Wong
Choreography Bill T. Jones, Janet Wong, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company
Lighting Design Robert Wierzel
Composer & Music Director Nick Hallett
Electronic Score Hprizm, Rena Anakwe, and Holland Andrews
Costume Design Liz Prince
Dramaturg Mark Hairston

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