Preview: A Correct Likeness

Dancer Amanda Dye of Leopold Group. Photo by Jessie Young.

This weekend the Leopold Group, along with Bread and Roses Productions will present an evening of dance and photography at the Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery. A Correct Likeness, curated by Leopold Group artistic director Lizzie Leopold, explores “the intersection of dance and photography”. More like an art installation than a traditional dance concert, the performance interweaves dancers, photography, video cameras and live musicians (electronic duo Hard R), while the audience moves through the space at their leisure. Video and photos taken this weekend may also be included in the subsequent performance scheduled for December 1st and 2nd.

The three featured photographers – Arn Klein, Matthew Gregory Hollis and Jessie Young – each shot the six dancers over the past year. Once in the space on Saturday, they will lay out all the photographs and, with Leopold, decide where to hang them, intermingling artistic visions as the dancers and audience will later intermingle with the photographic stills. Young, also a dancer, has worked with Leopold before and brings a choreographic eye to her pictures. I spoke with Young over the phone earlier this week.

How did you hook up with Lizzie for this particular project?

She was a participant on a project that I did last year called “Blue Space”. I invited people, some I knew and some I didn’t know, to have their portrait taken in…it was an old bedroom of mine, but the idea was that the walls of the room were all blue. They would be in this space and I would take pictures of them doing whatever they wanted. At the end of the project, I would have these portraits and they would all have the same background color. That started two ideas for me. The first was getting into some kind of idea or motive and repetitively working with that idea, then allow the difference in that situation be more about the people that come into it. For this project, I had the dancers wear the leotards they are wearing for the show. They came over to my house and we went into my alley. They each had their own bag of powdered sugar and I would cover them in powdered sugar and take their photos. The interest in the sugar is more because of the texture. When they have it on, it would have this looks like sand. No one that has scene the photos knows it’s powdered sugar, unless they were there. There were a number of different elements that I wanted to do with them. It’s almost like asking someone to put on a mask. It kind tends to unlock and show different parts of a personality of a person. It’s hard to get into a photo shoot sometimes. The first 15 minutes, you’re breaking the ice. I wasn’t worried about breaking the ice with these girls. I’d worked with a lot of them and I know many of them. I did want to start to see them in a different way and I did want to see themselves in a different way. Beyond that, the reason I liked the powdered sugar is that it’s so light. Any movement or gesture, it casts this kind of wave of powder around them, so you can see the movement. You can see the echo of a movement because of the powder flying off. It was a very beautiful thing to capture with my camera, because I could see a movement, but I could also capture all of the powder around that movement.

How does being both a dancer and a photographer affect the way you see/watch dance or photograph?

I definitely feel like I photograph like a dancer. I think of movement direction and movement qualities before I would think of any variation. I add variation after I’ve taken the photograph. I’m not giving them any kind of context. All the direction during the photo shoot is completely movement. Afterward, when I look at the photograph, I can see relationships and get highlight that with the way I edit, but I’m still connected to it in terms of movement vocabulary. It will be interesting to see these girls that have done movement that I’ve directed, captured on the walls in a space where they’re doing movement that Lizzie’s directed.

Leopold Group with Bread and Roses Production presents A Correct Likeness, Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 pm and Sunday, Oct 28 at 5 pm at the Defibrillator Gallery, 1136 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets ($20) are available at the door or visit

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