“American Masters” continues its 25th anniversary season with “Bill T. Jones: A Good Man,” premiering at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11 on WHYY. PBS says the 90-minute film chronicles the intense creative journey of Bill T. Jones — a 2010 Kennedy Center Honors recipient and two-time Tony Award winner for Best Choreography — as he tackles the most ambitious work of his career and leads the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in the creation of “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray,” an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial commissioned by Ravinia Festival.
Through a process that spanned two years, co-directors Bob Hercules and Gordon Quinn provide a window into the creative process and the creative crisis of one of our nation’s “most enduring, provocative artists as he explores what it means to be a good man, to be a free man, to be a citizen.”
“I had always wanted to make a film that follows the creation of art from the very beginning all the way to the end,” said Bob Hercules. “‘Bill T. Jones: A Good Man’ gave us that chance, since we were wisely brought in by Ravinia at the very start of Bill’s research phase. Luckily, we had the resources and determination to keep filming through the whole process up to the premiere of the piece two years later. The result is an unvarnished look at how art gets created.”
“We tried to convey the immense amount of ideas and information that Bill T. Jones transfers into movement, music and speech for a performance,” said Gordon Quinn. “As we watched Bill’s struggles in putting his feelings about Lincoln and the contradictions and complexities of American democracy into ‘Fondly…,’ we found ourselves drawn into the same contradictions about our democracy and our hopes for the future of this country.”