Dance Man Bill T. Jones Had His Own Awakening on New Musical | Playbill

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Tony Awards Dance Man Bill T. Jones Had His Own Awakening on New Musical "I'd like this to be as if you were looking at a kid on YouTube or MySpace dancing out their heart in front of the camera." That was the suggestion Spring Awakening choreographer and Tony Award nominee Bill T. Jones got when he came on board the project.

Bill T. Jones discusses his work on Spring Awakening.
Bill T. Jones discusses his work on Spring Awakening. Photo by Greg Kalafatas

Those words were delivered by director Michael Mayer, who gave the big name in the dance world his first Broadway gig. Jones' initial response to fellow Tony nominee Mayer was, "I think I could get into that."

But the shift to Broadway demanded a psychological and emotional adjustment for the choreographer. "I'm usually a single artist. I do work collaboratively, but it's usually my project, not coming into somebody else's world with [their] very strong opinions. I had to learn how to put my ego in check when producers had notes for me about my choreography." He laughingly quipped, "'What do they know about choreography, right?' It was a learning experience."

Jones understood Mayer and the creators (and fellow Tony nominees) Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's investment and commitment to the concept of the project. "To their credit, because they had six years of rewrites, by the time I came on board, they had a strong sense of what it should do. Sometimes I thought it was too strong and I thought, 'Isn't that a little over-determined?' But they were right. That conception only became more refined as time went along.

"I'm proud to say that I think that I added an ingredient that maybe they were looking for: that kind of non-verbal, more elemental expression of physicality on stage, youthful energy if you will. I mean, 'The Bitch of Living'?!

"I remember saying to John Gallagher, 'Look, I want you to channel Jim Morrison.' He was actually already doing it. 'I want you to be macho and sexy and have a good time.' And they went for it." With a Tony Award nom in tow, Jones can now add audiences and critics to the list of those who also "went for it."

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