Durham County

ADF 2017: Bill Young/Colleen Thomas work ‘Interleaving’ featured

Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. dancers perform Young’s 1986 work, ‘Interleaving.’
Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. dancers perform Young’s 1986 work, ‘Interleaving.’ Special to The Herald-Sun

When choreographer/dancer Bill Young was growing up in Durham dance was not on his radar. He did not know of any local modern dance companies here and when he graduated from Jordan High School in 1973 the American Dance Festival was five years away from relocating to Durham.

“I was into music,” Young said in a phone interview.

He played the bassoon in his high school’s band and also had his own band with some friends.

So, after high school, Young headed for Oberlin College where he planned to major in music, but after taking a dance class in contact improvisation, he switched his major to dance.

“They [his parents] didn’t know what in the world I was doing. It took a while for them to tell the neighbors,” Young recalled.

“And, now, I’m going to dance at the American Dance Festival. How about that!,” he added.

This appearance marks his ADF debut. Young, a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, has created over 70 works and his New York-based company has performed many times all over the world as well as in the U.S.

On this ADF program, Young will appear with 14 other dancers in “Interleaving,” a 1986 work he revived last year. “It was the 30th anniversary of my first big splash I made in New York. I knew I wanted to make a full-evening work and I knew I wanted to work with a lot of folks,” Young recalled, of creating “Interleaving” to celebrate the 1986 opening of his Soho loft performance space.

His unique approach in creating “Interleaving” involved combining in it four of his prior dances: “For Wall Unfolding”, an all-female quintet; “Double Bill,” a trio; and two quartets: “Music Minus One” and “Sambosamba.” Instead of a linear presentation of each work, he grouped the works together in terms of beginnings, middles and ends, with each section of each work performed sequentially.

In a program note, Young has described the four dances as being sewn together as in publishing, where “interleaving” refers to the insertion of pages between main pages of a book.

“[For the revival] I assigned my roles to younger dancers except for a few places [in those works] I kept for myself,” Young wrote.

That’s why audiences will see him, from time to time, in the performance. In one such appearance, Young and his wife Colleen Thomas perform a duet from “Sambosamba” in which they’re mostly on the floor.

In 2005, Young and Thomas established Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. for their joint ventures.

For the revival of “Interleaving,” Rachel Jones Bellas’ costumes -- trousers and loosely cut tops, all have different patterns that include flowers, plaids and lines. She based her designs on the original costumes that had been made from a variety of Japanese kimonos found in a trash bin, Young said.

The colors and designs of those kimonos as the dancers moved in “Interleaving” had impressed New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning, who wrote in a 1987 review that this dance resembled “an activated Jackson Pollack painting.”


WHAT: The American Dance Festival presents Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. and Natalie Marrone & The Dance Cure.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 23 and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24.

WHERE: Reynolds Industries Theater, Bryan Center, Duke University.

TICKETS: 919-684-4444 or www.americandancefestival.org

INFO: As part of the American Dance Festival’s spotlight on NC artists this season, this shared program features Durham native Bill Young’s revival of his 1986 “Interleaving” and Chapel Hill-based Natalie Marrone & The Dance Cure in “Thresh.”