New and Repertory Work Plus Guest Artists NANCY BANNON, LEVI GONZALEZ and ALEXEY TARAN

Fri-Sun, Feb 18-20

NEW YORK, NY: January 5—Bill Young and Colleen Thomas are tired of dance performances. "I'm trying to make a dance where people don't notice I'm making a dance," Young says.

Young and Thomas, partners in both choreography and life, open this year's 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival on Feb 18-20 with LITup, a program designed especially for the dance space at 92Y. They create and curate a compilation of new and existing material from their repertory and works from guest artists Nancy Bannon, Levi Gonzalez and Alexey Taran.

Thomas and Young are veterans of 92Y's Dance Festival (1998 and 2003), and they are familiar with 92Y's historic and intimate Buttenwieser Hall as both a performance and rehearsal space. More informal than a theater, the room suits the comfortable, spontaneous feel of performances they've been giving over the last six years in their loft and studio space downtown.  And given the closeness of audience and dancers in Buttenwieser Hall, they envision almost a panorama, with dances occuring around the audience in different parts of the room.

"We want the audience to enjoy what we enjoy in the studio," Young says.  "We want people to see the intrinsic nature of the dancers and who they are, rather than focusing only on what they do." That's the inspiration for a new, to-be-titled, group piece Young is creating for the Festival, set to music by Giorgios Kontos. "It's different from my other repertory," he explains. The goal is for the audience not to "get sidetracked" by dance or stage technique, but to feel they're part of what the dancers are feeling.

Also on the program is Young's Off (for Pedro and Ildiko), the steamy and intriguing dance he made for Pedro Osorio, Ildiko Tóth - and a cameraman. The camera shoots the couple live, and the audience, which starts out watching the two performers, finds itself seduced by the large video image, which is turn is affected by the performers' shadows.

Colleen Thomas contributes her 2009 work, Damsel, which she says came from thinking about "the obstacles we think are set in front of us - but often come from ourselves."  She created it for her friend and colleague Keith Johnson - not a damsel; whether he's in distress is up to each viewer.

As curators, Thomas and Young have invited three artists they've worked with and admire - Nancy Bannon (who performed in the Festival last year as well), Levi Gonzalez and Alexey Taran - to contribute pieces to the Festival program.

Gonzalez is showing a one-time-only piece, which he calls a "Performance Experiment with Furniture," Involving adrenaline, playfulness, endurance and exhaustion. In this solo dance, he aims to push his body to the point where it makes "on-the-spot decisions" as it reacts to furniture and the architecture of Buttenwieser Hall.

Bannon, a former dancer with Doug Varone and Dancers, now writes and directs theatrical pieces. Her new work, Men of Wealth and Taste, takes a look at how men behave when they're together at, say, a sporting event. As Bannon has grown older and become more "responsible," she found herself starting to understand adult male behavior that at one time baffled her.

Alexey Taran presents a work in his trademark virtuosic style – tough, intense and stark.

WHAT: 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival, Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Company

WHEN: Fri, Feb 18 & Sat, Feb 1919 at 8 pm, Sun, Feb 20 at 3 pm

WHERE: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

Info: www.92Y.org/harknessfestival or 212.415.5500

Press Information: Sarah Morton, smorton@92Y.org or 212.415.5435

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