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For Your Disinformation

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Stop kicking yourself. So you couldn't cough up the 30 bucks--including a five-dollar Ticketmaster service charge--to sit in the nosebleed section of the mezzanine and watch Bill T. Jones's Still/Here, the latest controversial New York must-see to sweep through town. Don't worry, Jones didn't need you there--or any of us for that matter. The piece was commissioned by a dozen A-list cultural institutions, and Jones thinks we're all idiots anyway.

If you don't believe me, just take a look at the program, a slickly designed 20-page Stagebill insert. Here the collaborators explain exactly what the piece means and how its many elements work together. We needn't bother to actually watch it.

From director/choreographer Bill T. Jones, a self-described "contemporary person": "My intention since the onset of this project has been to create a work, not as a rumination on death and decline, but on the resourcefulness and courage necessary to perform the act of living."

From Gretchen Bender, visual artist: "We hope the collaborative aspect of this work will accentuate the human body and spirit within its culture of visual and aural shadows...poignantly underscoring that we are 'still here' and trying to comprehend what a gift that is."

And from Vernon Reid, composer: "On the surface, Still/Here is about people with life-threatening illness. But these people are still alive, and it shows how selfless and courageous they've become."

All you need to do is swipe one magic-decoder program from an usher, wait two hours in the lobby, then join your friends for a lively discussion over cappuccino and biscotti ("You know, Phyllis, I really liked how the piece accentuated the human body and spirit within its culture of visual and aural shadows"). Hey, if Arlene Croce can review it without seeing it, why can't you?

For those of you who insist on watching the piece, the artistic team spills even more ink praising the work so you won't fall into any unwelcome habits like forming opinions of your own.

From Robert Wierzel, lighting designer: "Still/Here speaks very powerfully."

From the Lark Quartet, who perform much of the score: "Working with Bill T. Jones, it was immediately obvious that he had a tremendous, profound vision."

And from Bill Finizio, percussionist: "It is a privilege and an honor to be a part of this powerful project, which will deeply touch all those who experience it."

If the NEA does in fact dry up and these artists have to find day jobs, they might consider turning in resumes at the Pentagon. Surely there are some good disinformation campaigns just waiting for them.

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