Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. In 1982 he formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) with his late partner, Arnie Zane. In addition to creating more than 140 works for his own company, Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet, among many others.
His work in dance has been recognized with many honors and awards, including the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2014), the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award (2010); the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2005); and the Harlem Renaissance Award ( 2005), among others. He was 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. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, a musical he co-conceived, co-wrote, directed and choreographed. 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.
Jones has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, the Colbert Report, and in HBO’s documentary series MASTERCLASS, which follows notable artists as they mentor aspiring young artists. He has received honorary doctorates from Yale University, Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, Skidmore College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College and the State University of New York at Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award.
Jones’s memoir, Last Night on Earth, was published by Pantheon Books in 1995. His most recent book, Story/Time: The Life of an Idea, was published in 2014 by Princeton University Press.
Jones is currently Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, an organization that 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.
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