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Painful Realities

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Dear Editor:

After seeing Still/Here by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, I am trying to decide whether Arlene Croce, who had the audacity to write about a piece she had not seen, or the Reader's Terry Brennan, who had the similar audacity to provide commentary on a multimedia performance piece after seeing parts out of context on videotape [Critic's Choice, March 31], is a bigger ass. I guess that once you have sunk to such a level, the degree of idiocy really doesn't matter. Both Croce and Brennan wear the shoes of religious fanatics who boycott and criticize movies like The Last Temptation of Christ without ever seeing the movie. At least the religious fanatics are motivated by some form of idealistic passion. How much more pathetic to practice the same ignorance simply out of arrogance, egotistical self-aggrandizement, and the need to say something pithy. For the record, as someone who has seen the piece, Still/Here is one of the most poignant, brilliantly conceived and executed theatrical experiences I have had the pleasure of attending. Everything from the movement to costumes to music to lighting to video is combined to create a work that is not "pity mongering," "mawkish" or "sentimental," but quite to the contrary life affirming and gushing with "quality." (Since when do we condemn artists dealing with the topic of death as pandering to social relevance.) The use of the experiences and words of those in the workshops who have been "diagnosed" does not lead to our feeling sorry for them. Rather the piece forces each of us, some of us who may already be "diagnosed" and the rest who simply have not been "diagnosed" yet to confront our own mortality. We are all dying, folks, it's just a matter of time. This may seem very dark and depressing, but the genius of Jones is that he transforms these painful realities not into a celebration of death but into a celebration of life. Let me conclude by noting that Brennan's comments alluding to what he believes are signs of Jones's deterioration and impending death--"like a great prizefighter in one of his last bouts," "losing his grip"--are derogatory, insulting, and incredibly irresponsible. Bill T. Jones is and remains one of the most vital artists of our time, and I look forward to his next piece.

Andrew Toulon

N. Milwaukee

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