Choreographer Bill T. Jones to receive honorary degree at Commencement

Bill T. Jones

Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones will be one of seven distinguished individuals receiving honorary degrees as part of the Brandeis Commencement exercises on May 17. He will be given the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Famous for his work’s influential expression of sexuality and race, Jones is the cofounder and artistic director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the 10 member troupe has performed in more than 200 cities and thirty countries worldwide, including France, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The company is named for Jones and his late partner, Arnie Zane, with whom he formed the American Dance Asylum in 1973 with collaborators Lois Welk and Jill Becker. Jones and Zane choreographed works whose visual aesthetics and provocative topics shocked audiences of modern dance. For Jones, drawing upon personal experience enriched and revolutionized his work.

In addition to creating more than 100 works for his own company, Jones has choreographed for the Boston Ballet, the Berlin Opera Ballet, the Lyons Opera Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1994, and in 2007 he received a Tony Award for best choreography for his work in Spring Awakening. Deemed “an irreplaceable dance treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition, he also won the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Harlem Renaissance Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award of the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY).

The other honorary degree recipients include renowned conductor James Conlon, famed opera singer Marilyn Horne, Indian environmentalist Rajendra K. Pachauri, Holocaust survivor and scholar Israel Gutman, Israeli entrepreneur and industrialist Stef Wertheimer, and Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.

For more information on the honorary degree recipients, or Commencement 2009, visit the Commencement Web site.

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage