Students inspired by artist lecture

Coogs felt the beat of the music while showing off their moves on a UV dance floor   |  Fernando Castaldi/The Daily Cougar

Coogs felt the beat of the music while showing off their moves on a UV dance floor | Fernando Castaldi/The Daily Cougar

Collaboration is the art of working together and utilizing each other’s skills to create a masterpiece.

World-famous choreographer and collaborator Bill T. Jones spoke with students Thursday night as the first lecturer of the Mitchell Lecture Series presented by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Complete with dance, video, song and electric violin, Jones emphasized the importance of learning to work together and using passion to become a leader.

“Art-making is a spiritual activity for the artist and there is a selfishness in art-making. Collaboration is going past oneself and letting someone else through,” Jones said. “By throwing yourself into someone else’s fire, you can get to another place, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Jones is the co-founder and director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which produces and presents contemporary art in New York City. He has won two Tony Awards and a Kennedy Center Honor, which he won in 2010.

Jones’ performances typically incorporate multiple disciplines and are often centered around injustices Jones has experienced throughout his life.

“I ask myself: Can I make a dance that will make the world less violent? Can I make a dance that will spread knowledge on climate change? Can I make a dance that will make parents care more about their children’s education?” Jones said.

Earth science sophomore Marcela Acosta was inspired by Jones’ lecture and now plans to make dance a first choice in her career.

“I am a dance minor and he taught my master dance class today. He put collaboration into us as dancers,” Acosta said. “He taught us how to figure out how to work together and still be leaders.”

Dance sophomore Lauren Johnson was moved by his lecture and unable to believe she was being taught by someone so famous.

“It’s just really big to receive advice from him. To think that he started this life as a crop picker and is now an award-winning artist,” Johnson said. “To be that close to him and hear what he has to say is pretty amazing.”

Jones’ advice for students who want to be artists is to make their own road, make their own opportunities and keep on going, no matter what.

“The world doesn’t need another hungry artist,” Jones said. “You have to say, ‘To hell with the world, I’ve got to do this.’ Say, ‘I am an artist and I want your attention.’”

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