“Imperfect, you know, oftentimes shaking in his boots,

but still doing it.”

The Kennedy Center recently announced this year’s honorees: Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Paul McCartney, Oprah WInfrey, and choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones. NY1 News host/reporter Budd Mishkin produced this Bill T. Jones interview/feature, and Mishkin’s delivery can grate, but try and suffer through it in order to listen to what Jones has to say.

“Tonight, somebody could die on this stage. Tonight, somebody could sprout wings and fly on this stage. That is the wonderful promise of live performance.”

12 thoughts on ““Imperfect, you know, oftentimes shaking in his boots,

  1. Sheila Ryan Post author

    “Lo and behold, those sons of bitches that thought we were a flash in the pan in 1980 — where are they? Who’s still up there?”

  2. Sheila Ryan Post author

    If you can get into it, there are ‘extras’ — outtakes not included in the seven-minute feature. Jones on working with his mother. Word association. Past works. Rich stuff.

  3. Lauren Bufferd

    do you remember, we saw his company dance in Chicago sometime in the late 80s or early 90s was it? I watched with my mouth hanging open.

  4. Sheila Ryan

    Oh, yes, Lauren. I remember walking out into the night and your finally breaking the silence by saying that you were glad someone else, someone you knew, had witnessed what you had just seen. I recall one extended moment in particular when human beings both inhabited and transcended their bodies in a way I could not begin to describe.

    Some years later, I saw Jones perform his “Breathing Show” in Chicago, and it was wonderful — but something astonishing happened that earlier night, and I am glad you remember it.

  5. Lucy Foley

    I love that feeling in a theatre. I last felt that that intensely after seeing Robert Wilson’s Woyzeck. I couldn’t believe it. And I can’t really talk about it coherently now because it’s been a few years, but I had seen a Peter Brook show the night before and it was interesting but not hugely engaging, and I was so much all set to be moved by Peter Brook, probably more than any other theatre director in the world at that point. But this Wilson show, the beauty of its visual poetry and Tom Waits’ songs moved me to tears.

    The weird thing is that I did not remember that the actors in this play were Danish, and a good friend of mine had some stories from when Tom Waits was living in Copenhagen, rehearsing for some Robert Wilson play, and just now from googling, I see that it was actually for Woyzeck that he lived there.

    I was enormously moved by Aftermath in London this summer, and felt utterly grateful – like physically in my bone marrow grateful – to be alive afterward and that’s another rarity to experience from a theatre.

  6. Sheila Ryan Post author

    It was like that, Lucy. And there really is no other way to get that feeling than by witnessing an astonishing in-the-flesh performance. Astonishment can seize hold by other means, but to be awed but one’s living, breathing fellow humans right there before you in the same physical space is . . . awesome.

  7. Sheila Ryan Post author

    Oh, and yes, that sense of wonder at the fact of being alive and of gratitude for it.

  8. Lucy Foley

    Well, Aftermath is a kind of documentary theatre. It was made from the real testimony of Iraqi refugees, talking about their lives in Iraq, before and during the war, and it is harrowing and it is possibly the most despairing experience I have had in a theatre.

  9. Sheila Ryan Post author

    Once I reread, I thought that was what you were talking about, and that has a whole nuther kind of visceral power.

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