Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company will ponder ‘What Problem?’ Feb. 11

Community members will join dance troupe in exploring ‘We Are’

UNIVERSITY PARK (Wednesday, Jan. 19) — The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company will explore the meaning of “We Are” and the nature of community in the experimental dance work “What Problem?” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

In a nod to sociologist, equal-rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois, “What Problem?” deconstructs what Du Bois called “the problem of the color line” and elaborates on “otherness” by expanding the term to include sexual politics, gender identity, class struggle and immigration.

The presentation is part of “The Reflection Project,” a center initiative funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Much like our project examines the familiar chant ‘We Are,’ ‘What Problem?’ looks at who is meant and included when we as a nation say ‘we,’” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, the center’s audience and program development director.

“What Problem?” provokes the tension between belonging to a community and feelings of isolation that many feel during these divisive political times. Jones conceived of this highly personal work in pursuit of the elusive “we,” including references to text from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”

“It’s about living in a community and learning to see, listen to and care for each other,” said a writer for CriticalDance.org of the work’s 2020 premiere.

In addition, “What Problem?” highlights the significance of personal connections in a section of the work that will integrate State College area elders, artists and activists.

After the performance, community participants and company artists will discuss the work with interested audience members.

Jones is an artist, stage director and author most widely known for winning Tony Awards for the choreography of Broadway’s “Fela!” and “Spring Awakening.” Last April, Jones was featured as the guest artist on the center’s online discussion series “Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso.”

Watch a preview of “What Problem?”

This Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company appearance is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Fierce Urgency Festival, with a theme this season of “Hope-Resist-Heal.”

Safety first

The Center for the Performing Arts has health and safety of our patrons in mind. Penn State requires that masks be worn in all University buildings and emphasizes its commitment to cleaning and ventilating its spaces. In addition, the center will work to ensure the safety of its patrons by positioning contactless ticketing kiosks and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the venues. Visit Covid Precautions for more information on the center’s safety protocols.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Share