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4:00PM | 7:00PM

Words Begin as Sound is a new evening of performance by choreographer and writer Abigail Levine. Words Begin results from a two year assignment Levine gave to herself to pay attention to the world around her through sound—sound as the way to exceed our bodies; sound as communication unmediated by language; sound as our first and last perception of the world. The performance itself—playful and structurally precise—includes a chorus with coffee grinders, a Spanish-language remake of a 1950s game show, and a song (nominally but not really) about Andy Warhol.

This new work is a companion piece to Redactions (Chocolate Factory Theater, 2022) and continues Levine’s engagement with the cultural legacy of minimal and conceptual art, including artists who became collaborators and mentors, composer Alvin Lucier, performance artist Marina Abramovic, and choreographer Yvonne Rainer. 

Levine is joined in performance by four dancers—Martita Abril, Anna Azrieli, Julian Barnett, and Kristopher KQ Pourzal—with sound design by Paula Matthusen and visual design by Karen Boyer. The performance will be accompanied by a zine, which will include texts written during the work’s development. 


Abigail Levine’s work layers movement, text, and sound-making objects (think: ceramic tiles sliding off bodies or bricks pushed slowly across a concrete floor.) Dancers speak while moving and use repurposed everyday objects to dissolve language into sound. Performances are accompanied by written texts that often themselves trespass into the territory of drawing and musical score. Her multi-year commissions, Redactions (Chocolate Factory Theater, 2022) and Restagings (Fridman Gallery, 2017-2019) have been supported by fellowships and residencies at MacDowell, Bogliasco Foundation, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Los Angeles Performance Practice, Target Margin Theater, and Center for Performance Research, and emergency and project grants from Foundation for Contemporary Arts and New Music USA. Levine collaborated recently with pioneering electronics composer Alvin Lucier on a staging of his Orpheus Variations at ISSUE Project Room and performed with both Marina Abramovic and Yvonne Rainer in their retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art. Levine’s critical writing has been published in Documents in Contemporary Art, Art21, Women & Performance, Performance Art Journal (PAJ), and her creative work in Interim Poetics, La Vague Journal, and Imagined Theatres. Levine has taught in the Dance Departments at Wesleyan University and Florida State University and is currently on faculty at The New School and the University of Texas at Austin’s UTNY program. She is a contributing editor to the Movement Research Performance Journal.

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