Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray

Fondly Do We Hope was originally created to encourage the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company enthusiasts to learn more about the process behind the creation and production of Bill T. Jones Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray when it was presented as part of the 2010 Lincoln Center Festival.

When I discovered that the domain was available, I immediately bought it and started reconstructing the site from its archived content. Unfortunately, many of the original pages of the site where not available in an archive version so I have taken some liberties by combining original archive content with content from additional outside sources.  I hope you enjoy reading about Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray and seeing images of the production as much as I have enjoyed rebuilding the website.


Fondly Do We Hope is the most ambitious work to date in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s 25 year history.  The title comes from Lincoln's second inaugural address.


Bill T. Jones Thoughts


"I live with the uneasy feeling that society has shaped me as a result of something that was stolen from us when Abraham Lincoln was killed. The cynicism and alienation that I feel in my head and heart arose because of this strange turn of destiny."--Bill T. Jones

We are making a work about Abraham Lincoln.  It premiered on September 17, 2009 at the Ravinia Festival.  But why dance?  It would be much easier to do a play about the man.  Therein lies the challenge.  What do we want to say about Lincoln? We do not want this be a history lesson.  How do we talk about the hot button issue of the day, slavery?  How do we present the war.  More than 600,000 men died. How do we reconcile 19th century language with movement and how can our modern ears grasp the ideas behind those words?  And what about Mary Todd?  And how is he reflected in us?  The piece has to be ultimately about us.


Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray investigates the myriad meanings of Lincoln. According to Jones he rejected the accepted truths we have all been fed via lore,  films and history books etc. in favor of challenging and through the elements of dance, music, song, and narration celebrate the lasting contributions of this great man.

Investigating a handful of key moments from Lincoln’s remarkable life, this work is both dance and theatre. Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray envisions the America that might have been had Lincoln not been assassinated and he had been able to complete the Reconstruction. The result exposes the great distance between what is and what could have been.


There was a whole section of the original site called the DIARY where readers could follow the development of this piece as Bill T. Jones and the dance company worked towards the premiere as well as how the dance / theater work changed when they took it on the road.  Alas there were no archived version available.


Ideas Behind MUSIC and DESIGN

These sections allowed viewers to learn about the little things that happen on the side in SIDELINE. 



  • Christopher Antonio William Lancaster (band leader) - Lady Gay
  • Jerome Begin - Hot Linx aka Freedom’s Bitch
  • George Lewis Jr. - Kinky Linx
  • Clarissa Sinceno - Titilly Linx aka C-dog

These crazy names are not in the program.  The band named themselves, probably during a couple of van rides to and from the theater in May.  The rock, folk and gospel music are jointly composed by Chris, Jerome, and George. Because this dance piece is about the Civil War period, some of the music is drawn from that period of time between 1850 to 1860. Their process is quite unique and sometimes involving the warmth and glow of the fireplace. 

DESIGN for the Production of Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray

The Set:

Creative Director/Set Designer

 Bjorn G. Amelan

Bjorn G. Amelan began collaborating with BTJ/ AZDC in 1993. As the company’s resident set designer, he has created décor for many of the company’s works and special presentations. For Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray he created a gauze oval enclosure with projected video images of Janet Wong.  The video images are non-narrative. It operates poetically, suggesting ideas and feelings. Sometimes the enclosure made the dancers within look as if they were shrouded in mist. Elsewhere written quotations, song lyrics and opinions were projected on top of the dancers.

The stage is designed to make you feel like you are entering another world, the world of this piece.. Although it includes curtains, columns, and a small stage built over some of the seats in the audience, it remains  abstract more abstract and does not represent anything in particular.

The Costumes:


  • Choreographed and Directed by: Bill T. Jones in Collaboration with: Janet Wong and Dancers
  • Music by: Christopher Antonio William Lancaster, Jerome Begin, George Lewis jr.
  • Lighting by: Robert Wierzel
  • Set by: Bjorn G. Amelan
  • Associate Set Designer: Solomon Weisbard
  • Costume by: Liz Prince
  • Video by: Janet Wong
  • Sound Design by: Lindsay Jones
  • Text: selection from Whitman, Lincoln, etc, compiled by Bill and Janet


  • Antonio Brown
  • Asli Bulbul
  • Peter Chamberlin
  • Talli Jackson
  • Shayla-Vie Jenkins
  • LaMichael Leonard
  • I-Ling Liu
  • Paul Matteson
  • Erick Montes
  • Jennifer Nugent
  • with Jamyl Dobson

Music Ensemble:


  • Christopher Antonio William Lancaster (band leader) - Lady Gay
  • Jerome Begin - Hot Linx aka Freedom’s Bitch
  • George Lewis Jr. - Kinky Linx
  • Clarissa Sinceno - Titilly Linx aka C-dog
  • Wynee Bennett

Production Staff:

  • Production Stage Manager: Kyle Maude
  • Lighting Supervisor: Laura Bickford
  • Technical Director: Eric Launer
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Michelle Dunn
  • Video Programmer: Dallas Nichols and Micah Stieglitz
  • Costume Supervisor: Anjia Jalac

A very helpful Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray pdf presented as a Teacher Resource Guide is informative. You don’t have to be a teacher or a student. If you are interested, go here.