Bill T. Jones, Okwui Okpokwasili Respond to Nick Cave’s ‘Until’ at MASS MoCA


Bill T. Jones

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Iconic choreographer Bill T. Jones and choreographer, writer, actress Okwui Okpokwasili will present solo works created in response to and performed within Nick Cave’s monumental exhibition “Until” at MASS MoCA on Saturday, March 4  and Friday, April 7, respectively. Both shows are at 8pm. These events are co-presentations with Jacob’s Pillow Dance.

Each artist will perform a world premiere solo work in dialogue with Cave’s “Until,” taking place within the exhibit in Building 5 at MASS MoCA.

(The Bill T. Jones event is already sold out.)

Lauded for his “transcendent artistry” (Wyatt Mason, New York Times), master choreographer and performer Bill T. Jones – a Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient – is the director of New York Live Arts and was named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000.

Okwui Okpokwasili

Actor, dancer, choreographer, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili – a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award recipient – is praised for her kinesthetically powerful and “ruthlessly clean and clever” (Helen Shaw, TimeOut New York) work.

“Nick and Bill T. have been speaking for years about finding a way to work together,” remarks MASS MoCA Curator Denise Markonish.  “We’re thrilled that Until gives them this opportunity — and to our friends at Jacob’s Pillow for helping us bring these two artists together.”

In the sweeping exhibition Until — a play on the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” or in this case “guilty until proven innocent” —  Cave addresses issues of gun violence, gun control policy, race relations, and gender politics in today’s America. Sprawling throughout the massive Building 5 space, the exhibition is comprised of 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 13 gilded pigs; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; 1 crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys.

Noted as Cave’s largest, most political, and most personal work to date — and drawing record crowds since its October 16 opening — the exhibition is intended as both art and stage. Dancers, singer-songwriters, pop artists, poets, and composers of world renown have been invited to perform in the space, which has welcomed and continues to host community events, including panel discussions, forums, theater, music making, and other forms of creative public debate and engagement.



Bill T. Jones holds a long and rich history with Jacob’s Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA. Jones’ company Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company made its Pillow debut in 1989 and performed most recently in 2012. Jones has been performing at MASS MoCA since 1999, including 2004 co-presentation with Jacob’s Pillow. In addition to receiving the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Jones has participated in the Pillow’s Creative Development Residency Program. Jones also narrated the Jacob’s Pillow documentary, Never Stand Still, released in 2012.  Most recently Jones took part in Nick Cave’s Convening at MASS MoCA, when cross-disciplinary performance artists came together to reflect on and begin cultivating a performative response to Cave’s exhibition.

Born in Fulton, Missouri and currently based in Chicago, Nick Cave is an American fabric sculptor, dancer, performance artist, and director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cave is best known for his “Soundsuits”—surreally majestic objects blending fashion and sculpture—that originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the Rodney King beatings which have evolved into vehicles for empowerment. Cave regularly performs in the sculptures himself, and works with choreographers, dancers, and amateur performers to produce lavish community celebrations in untraditional venues for art. The “Soundsuits” are also displayed in exhibitions as static sculptures, arranged as groups of figures in formation that are striking in their diversity and powerful stance. Cave’s sculptures also include non-figurative assemblages, intricate accumulations of found objects that project out from the wall, and installations enveloping entire rooms.

Cave’s awards and residencies include the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2008), Artadia Award (2006), Joyce Award (2006), Creative Capital Grant (2004, 2002), and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2001). Cave has had major exhibitions at Cranbrook Art Museum (2015); Saint Louis Art Museum (2014-15); ICA Boston (2014); Denver Art Museum (2013); Fabric Workshop and Museum (2011-12); Seattle Art Museum (2011); and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2009), among others. Cave holds a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute.




Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient Bill T. Jones is a master choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, and has received major honors ranging from a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award to Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, which was co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award.

In addition to creating more than 140 works for his own company, Jones has been commissioned to create dances for several modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet, among others. Jones directed and performed in a collaborative work with Toni Morrison and Max Roach, “Degga” (1995), at Alice Tully Hall, which was commissioned by the Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun Festival. His collaboration with Jessye Norman, “How! Do! We! Do!” (1999), premiered at New York’s City Center. In 2010, Jones was named executive artistic director of New York Live Arts formed by a merger of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Dance Theater Workshop.



Okwui Okpokwasili is a writer, performer, and choreographer. In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects that are raw, intimate experiences. As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with director and choreographer Ralph Lemon, including Come Home, Charley Patton (2006), for which she won a “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performer; How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? (2010), a duet performed at the Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century (2011); and Scaffold Room (2014). Okpokwasili has appeared as an actor in many productions including Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians (1999), Richard Foreman’s Maria del Bosco (2001), Kristin Marting’s Sounding (2009), Joan Dark (2009), Young Jean Lee’s Lear (2010), Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam (2012), and Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013). Film credits include The Interpreter (2005), The Hoax (2006), I Am Legend (2007), Knut Åsdam’s Abyss (2010), and Malorie’s Final Score (2013).

Okpokwasili’s pent up: a revenge dance (2008) premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production. An immersive installation version of the work was featured in the 2008 Prelude Festival. Her FCA-supported Bronx Gothic received a 2014 “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production, and continues to tour nationally and internationally. An early iteration of FCA-supported Poor People’s TV Room was presented by the Lincoln Center in the David Rubinstein Atrium in 2014.

Okpokwasili has received awards from The French American Cultural Exchange, a Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012), a New York Foundation for the Arts’ Fellowship in Choreography (2013), and was an artist-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Okpokwasili received her B.A. from Yale University in 1996.



Performance and Ticket Information

Bill T. Jones*: Saturday, March 4 at 8pm; Building 5 at MASS MoCA.

Okwui Okpokwasili: Saturday, April 7 at 8pm; Building 5 at MASS MoCA.


*This performance is currently sold out. To be placed on a waiting list, please call

413.662.2111 x1.


Ticket prices:

$30 General Admission, $20 Students, $5 MASS MoCA members

To order tickets: 413.662.2111 x1 or MASS MoCA

MASS MoCA is located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247.

Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under through May 21, 2017. Members are admitted free year-round. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, spring – fall. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MASS MoCA.

Hours: 11am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays







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