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“Ambros Adelwarth” as Contemporary Dance


The fabulous Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is currently working on a major new dance called Analogy, which involves using W.G. Sebald’s story of Ambros Adelwarth from The Emigrants as part of the program. Here’s the official description from the company’s website.

Analogy (working title) is the Company’s newest creation, currently in development. Bill T. Jones, along with Janet Wong (Associate Artistic Director of the Company) and the Company dancers, are developing a new evening-length work in two parts, focusing on the memory and the effect that powerful events have on the actions of individuals and-more importantly-on their often unexpressed inner life. In Analogy (working title), Jones continues to explore the intermingling of text, storytelling and movement, paying special attention to how new experiences can be had through the coalescing of these elements. Informing the work are two literary sources-an interview conducted by Jones with Dora Amelan (a French-Jewish nurse and social worker) chronicling her life experiences, as well as the story of Ambros Adelwarth, from W.G. Sebald’s celebrated historical novel, The Emigrants – that ruminate on the nature of service and duty, and inquire into the characteristics of a life well lived.

Some portion of the dance was presented last month at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. But now the company has moved on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  In the local Jackson Hole newspaper, reporter Frances Moody reveals a bit more about plans for using the Sebald story in the dance. Here are some excerpts.

Analogy is in its beginning steps…In Jackson the company will focus on the first half of “Analogy.” Based on an interview Jones conducted with World War II survivor Dora Amelan, the dancers will present Amelan’s account of the Holocaust… “We want to be very sure we are not making this piece about the Holocaust,” Wong said. “We want it to be about this brave, amazing young woman who had a particular view and perspective, a woman who is now 94 years old….”

The second part of Analogy also highlights memory with Sebald’s account of Ambros Adelwarth. In The Emigrants, Adelwarth’s story begins in World War I America and ends in Jerusalem. What appears to be a captivating adventure is something Adelwarth wanted to forget. “He was almost killed by his own memories,” Wong said. “He was someone who could not bear remembering. By the time everyone had died off he had nothing else to live for. He would subject himself to electroshock therapy that killed him.”

After its residency the company will have almost a year to complete the work. Jones and his dancers will return to Jackson in June of 2015 to show the final piece.

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