Tuesday, February 27, 2024

AfroPop opens new season with documentary featuring Black queer choreographer Bill T. Jones

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters recently kicked off season 15 of the popular documentary series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange with a look into one of the seminal works from trailblazing choreographer-director Bill T. Jones.

The film, by Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz, is the season opener for the public media series about culture and life across the African diaspora. Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters started streaming on WORLDChannel.org WORLD Channel’s YouTube channel and Black Public Media’s YouTube channel starting at midnight ET on Monday, April 3, and broadcast at 8:00 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel later. AfroPoP is coproduced by Black Public Media (BPM) and WORLD Channel, and distributed and copresented by American Public Television (APT). An excerpt of a special conversation between Jones and LeBlanc will be posted on Black Public Media’s YouTube Channel (@BlackPublicMedia) on Monday at midnight in honor of World Theater Day.

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters draws viewers into two time periods at once. It is a film that lives in the present, in LeBlanc’s dance studio at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where students grapple with learning Bill T. Jones’ tour de force ballet “D-Man in the Waters,” one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS. It also transports the audience back to 1989, when the dance was created by Jones, one of America’s most renowned choreographers, as members of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company were themselves besieged by the AIDS pandemic.

Through the reminiscences of those who were there, the film explores the company’s loss of their beloved members, including co-founder Zane and star dancer Demian Acquavella, whose nickname was “D-Man.” The current-day students work to connect with the history of the company and the AIDS crisis they weren’t alive for, as they struggle to master the intense physicality of the piece as they learn the healing power of art. Soon, they also face the formidable Jones himself as he drops in to observe rehearsals and offer feedback.

Watch the trailer for the film below!

Queer Forty Staff

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