Smile Politely

Dancing DIY

Jessie Young and Sophia Levine: second-year MFA dance students at the University and collaborators, choreographers, co-directors, producers, performers, and lighting and costume designers of this weekend’s you love me, which will showcase their formal dance training and performance experiences.

you love me will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 17th, Saturday, October 18th, and Sunday, Oct. 19, at the Channing Murray Foundation, the show’s sponsor, at 1209 W. Oregon St. in Urbana. In perhaps more common terms, it is right about the Red Herring. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased online or at the door.

Young and Levine not only have a great relationship with those at Channing Murray, but the space is also a great place for you love me. “It’s a beautiful setting with architecture and natural lighting through the stained glass windows that create a dramatic backdrop. There are lots of unique objects within the space that we incorporate into the performance,” the two said.

The two-woman show “created a high-production performance with a DIY mentality,” as Young and Levine said. They will control their lighting and sound throughout their performance. 

The dancers aim to give audiences “a visual and sensory experience that both provokes and delights them,” using character development, microphones and color. “We’ve had a great time creating it.” The work’s title is another facet of this experience, “invit[ing] the audience into a narrative that can include their own.”

Photo of Jessie Young by Sophia Levine

Their evening-length performance has been underway for almost a year. There have been three iterations of the it, each one inspiring the dancers to continue the project. The initial performance, LOCATION LOCATION, took place in February at Urbana’s [co][lab], where the two brought their solo works together. Here, Young and Levine were able to start experimenting with their production features. “We worked (quite literally) with the concept of being seen and unseen, taking blankets and strings of lights from which we cover[ed] ourselves and emerge[ed].” The fact that this performance took place during the extreme cold, they thought, “Yep, dancing with blankets could feel real good right about now.” 

The second iteration at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Dance at Illinois’ Studio II concert in April required a bit more discipline. Young and Levine edited their original hour-long piece, which was specifically selected for the event, into an eight-minute one. They were also able to hone in on their lighting and sound skills. “We wanted to create an environment that would bleed past the setting of a proscenium stage. We entered the stage from the seats of the audience and created a sound design that would vibrate through the seats of the audience and used lighting that moved on a spectrum of extreme dark to extreme bright.

The third iteration at the Champaign Art Salon in May, curated by Laura Chiaramonte, was more visceral, due to concrete warehouse where they preformed. “Our movement became more reckless, and we challenged ourselves with our own endurance, running, leaping and jumping against each other and the walls of the space,” they said.

The eight-month journey has challenged and inspired the two in their individual and collaborative choreographies. Their duet material has them “dancing in unison with [each other], and other times it has [them] crashing and colliding into one another.”

“The excitement comes from us not always knowing what the other will decide to do,” they said.

Come see the final product of Young and Levine’s work next weekend. In the meantime, be sure to visit the show’s Tumblr for show details and pictures.

Top photo of Sophia Levine by Jessie Young.

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