Bill T Jones speaks on inspiration for What Problem?

“This piece is about pursuit of the “we” We the People, we shall overcome, we hold these truths.

That is part of everyday parlance, and it’s quite irritating. I am a Black American who truly grew up thinking that we shall overcome, that there was a ‘we’ that transcended ethnicity and race.

And the more I have lived, the more I see those things are so deeply entrenched.

So what’s this we? 

This piece is a poem, a metaphorical rendering of wrestling with those stories, using iconographic texts. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Chapter 93, and Martin Luther King’s 1963 great March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream.”

They are iconic texts that define the American sense of our community. Both those documents have grown dusty, taken for granted. And they must be returned to regularly.”

What Problem? explores collective redemption. The work is divided into three sections: the first section focuses on one person, Bill; in the second section the lone person is joined by the company of ten performers; in the third section the company is joined by the community. We are thrilled to have the west coast premiere of this work at Royce Hall on Saturday, November 19 at 8PM. There will be a special Town Hall Discussion with the performers following the evening. Join us.

The above are excerpts from a longer interview with Bill T. Jones in TIME Magazine by Belinda Luscombe entitled ‘Free At Last’ Please. Who is Free?” Choreographer Bill T. Jones Reflects on a Half Century of Creative Work.