"What Problem?" Features Nearly 30 Local Community Members in the World Premiere by Legendary Choreographer Bill T. Jones

In what is arguably one of the most anticipated performances of the Great Performances at Mason Series, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company makes a major return to the Center for the world premiere of their latest project What Problem? Sunday, February 1 at 8 p.m. The performance is also a culmination of a dynamic week-long artistic residency—the second of the Center for the Arts’ inaugural cohort of Mason Artists-in-Residence—which features masterclasses, a Public Town Hall, and daily rehearsals with the nearly 30 Northern Virginia community members the performance includes.

In What Problem? Jones invites the public into his creative process for a provocative and thoughtful meditation on the tension between belonging to a community and feelings of isolations that many feel during these polarizing times.

The ambitious creation, co-commissioned by Indiana University Auditorium and Mason’s Center for the Arts will move to Indiana University Auditorium February 22 followed by the Lied Center in Lincoln, Nebraska February 27. At each destination, choreographers Jones and Janet Wong will work with a selected group of various community members to develop personalized content that addresses questions of belonging, community, isolationism, and loneliness. These local representatives of the community are made up of non-dancers and dancers alike coming together to form a realistic community onstage. 

For the Mason premiere, the nearly 30 community members were chosen to participate include Mason students and alumni, Mason-affiliates and Fairfax County residents, including participants from the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts, the Northern Virginia Senior Olympic Line Dancing Team, GMU Honors College, the School of Dance, Acting for Young People, Friends of Dance, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Pride Alliance, and Alumni from a variety of disciplines. During the Company’s residency, the community members will join in the rehearsal room with members of the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane company for a collaborative and creative experience that will culminate in a unique once-in-a-lifetime performance of What Problem?

In addition to these community members, the company is joined onstage by the Mason University Singers, who are performing original vocals that were created for this piece by composer Nick Hallett.

The performance Saturday, February 1 at 8 p.m. includes three thought-provoking sections: Jones in solo performance; Jones alongside members of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company; and, in conclusion, Jones and the company onstage with the local community members.

Additionally, the weeklong artistic residency will include six masterclasses with the Mason School of Dance; a masterclass with Fairfax County Public Schools’ Fairfax Academy dance students; multiple Mason classroom visits by members of the Company across academic disciplines; as well as collaborations with on-campus student groups.

A highlight of the residency includes a Town Hall with Bill T. Jones: A Conversation on Community, Identity, and Art at Old Town Hall (3999 University Dr, Fairfax, VA), Wednesday, January 29 at 7:30 pm. Jones will be joined in conversation with Franklin Dukes, Ph.D., who is a mediator and facilitator within the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation and founded University & Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) at the University of Virginia, and Wendi-Manuel Scott, who is an Associate Professor in Integrative Studies and the Department of History/Art History at George Mason University, focusing on Race, gender, the African American experience, and the history of black women in the Atlantic World. The event is FREE but reservations are requested here.

Support for the creation of What Problem? is provided by the Mason Artist-in-Residence program, which is funded, in part, by the George Mason University Office of Research, Innovation and Economic Impact and ARTSFAIRFAX. 

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company
What Problem? (World Premiere)

Saturday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets and more information here