It must’ve been a trip for Bill T. Jones to put together “Body Against Body,” his collection of five early pieces divided between two programs. Of the four duets here, three—an unofficial trilogy—were created by Jones with his partner, Arnie Zane, who died in 1988. And Jones based the one group piece, Continuous Replay (1991), on a 1977 Zane solo (performed on both programs, Continuous Replay includes full nudity).
Perhaps best known now for the crowd-pleasing Broadway hit Fela!, Jones took formally rigorous paths in these stark works, achieving obscure yet rewarding results. The trilogy’s first duet, Monkey Run Road (1979, program A), celebrates the dancers’ matter-of-fact but warm—even charged—camaraderie. They enter, workmanlike, pushing a wheeled wooden box with an opening at the top, suggesting a little house resting on its rear wall. A counterpoint to Monkey Run Road, Blauvelt Mountain (1980, program B) takes the form of a strenuous game; camaraderie isn’t the subject but a paradoxical result of the dancers’ competition. Valley Cottage (1980, program A) completes the trilogy. Jones’s Duet x 2 (1982) is danced on program B.