What happens to a work of art when time displaces it from its original context and the inspiration that inspired it? It’s a question that can uncover dry theories. But in “Can You Bring It?: Bill T. Jones and the D-Man in the Waters,” a new documentary directed by Tom Hurwitz and Rosalinde LeBlanc Lu, the answer is passionate and dynamic.
Jones is the co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Ernie Jane Company, a modern dance troupe. It evolved from the performing pair that Jones formed with his partner, Zane, who was not a dancer in the early 1970s.
Zane died of AIDS-related lymphoma in 1988. The film gives a moving account of their work-life collaboration before addressing the decisions made by Jones after Zane’s death. One of those decisions took the form of the piece “D-Man in the Waters”.
This dance group was inspired by a series of improvisations. It was a reflection of the experiences of the congregation, its struggles and its loss. As a piece of choreography, it has since been performed by dozens of collegiate and professional companies. “Can you bring it?” Jones asked a group of dancers at Loyola Marymount College in 2016 what they prepare the piece Under the direction of Lou, a former member of the Jones/Zen Company.
These students know little about AIDS, so Jones and Lou ask them to find conflict points in their lives, as part of a student community and otherwise. Intercutting between Jones/Zane Company’s older footage and student productions, as well as footage from another contemporary production of Peace – shot with a stage intimacy that resembles the in-the-ring segment of Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” Recalls – Make for an unusually lively documentary experience.
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters
not evaluated. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. in Theaters.