BY Joshua David Stein
October 08 2009 10:00 AM ET
Instead, Jones has led his company members to build a cast of characters who have sprouted in some way from Lincoln’s legacy, all responding to an imagined children’s-book biography of the great man. Sound complicated? It is. But this sort of organizational inspiration, a conceptual pas de chat that cuts to the very essence of his subject, is exactly what makes Jones such an important choreographer.
“I thought, Why don’t you take that kind of schematic children’s book outline and make that the trope that stands for the accumulated myth?” he explains. Interacting with this inherited narrative, Jones’s characters speak (as well as dance) their irascible modern reactions to a president who oversaw the nation’s deadliest war to date.
“We created other biographies of people who are like us,” Jones says, explaining the dancers’ personae. “She, born in 1975; he, born in 1952; someone who fell in love at age 16; someone who came from a small town in Maine where people have problems with unemployment and alcoholism and served in either Iraq or Afghanistan; a young soldier who is not a fan of our current president because he is arrogant and doesn’t know what it means to have blood on our hands. These are not icons; they are human beings, and we try to create characters who are not necessarily sympathetic but that maybe can suggest a broader picture of who we are.”