In the Dance Studio, Four (MacArthur) Geniuses at Work
The MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant,” is awarded annually to creative pioneers who just don’t stop. For choreographers Michelle Dorrance, Bill T. Jones, Elizabeth Streb, and Kyle Abraham, “genius” means originality and dedication.
Michelle Dorrance is a tap dancer, choreographer, teacher, and the Artistic Director of her own NYC-based dance company, Dorrance Dance. A 2015 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Dorrance is recognized for her ensemble choreography, collaborations with other choreographers and musicians, and commitment to educating about the complex history of American tap dance.
Bill T. Jones is a celebrated choreographer and dancer. Among his many accolades, he has won a National Medal of Arts, a Tony Award, a Gish Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Born in Florida in 1952, Jones grew up near Rochester, NY. He studied dance at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he met longtime collaborator and life-partner Arnie Zane. Their work was fiercely autobiographical, openly presenting homosexuality and tackling racism and other political issues through multimedia performances that pushed the boundaries of contemporary dance.
In 1982, the pair formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, a name Jones kept even after Zane’s death from AIDS in 1988. Jones’s Still/Here (1994) confronted his own diagnosis with HIV in a meditation on mortality that incorporated the movements of terminally ill people. He has choreographed over 120 works, including commissions from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the New York Opera, and the Boston Ballet. Jones also works in musical theater; his choreography for Fela! won a Tony Award in 2010.