July 27, 2016 at 1:42 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: Ben Levine
Ben Levine, gay news, Washington Blade

Ben Levine (Photo courtesy Levine)

If you’re concerned about whether or not you have the attention span to devote to a modern dance presentation, the Kitchen Sink Fest this weekend may allay your fears.

It’s comprised of 50 fast-paced, one-minute pieces mixed with 10 meditative installment works in an event that organizers say combines design, technology and dance. Producer Ben Levine will oversee a team of 22 local dancers on Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m. at Dance Place (3225 8th St., N.E.). Tickets are $15-30. Details at danceplace.org.

Levine got started in theater in elementary school and majored in it in college but became interested in modern dance while earning his theater degree.

“I now identify more as a dance artist than a theater artist,” says the 31-year-old D.C. native. “I like to say that I’ve gone over to the dark side.”

Over 10 years at Dance Place, where he works as technical director, he’s worked on nearly 500 shows of all genres. He hopes Kitchen Sink will spur audiences to “consider their relationship with time and technology.”

Levine is single and lives in Bloomingdale.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? 

I started coming out to friends my sophomore year of high school. My parents were the hardest people to tell, even though they’ve always been supportive of me.
Who’s your LGBT hero? 

The amazing choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Her gravity-defying work and use of large-scale scenic elements is a huge inspiration for Kitchen Sink Fest.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

They don’t let me out of the theater often. I’m more likely to be found getting a late night margarita at El Camino in my Bloomingdale neighborhood than out dancing at Town.  Even though I’m a dancer, I don’t actually enjoy going out dancing in a club or social situation. I need choreography! Go figure.

Describe your dream wedding.  

I have very little interest in getting married.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?  

Treatment of artists in society — how no one seems to value or want to provide funding for amazing, creative people doing their life’s work. When Metro put out a call for artists to perform at Metro stations this summer, notice there was no mention of a performance fee. Would you ask an electrician to repair Metro stations and not expect to pay them?

What historical outcome would you change? 

Right now I’m more worried about our country’s political and social future.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?  

My friends make fun of me because I have no knowledge of pop culture. Literally the only celebrity I know — randomly — is Wentworth Miller, another gay icon.
On what do you insist?

Editing your work, people.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?   

Telling everyone I know about my upcoming show, Kitchen Sink Fest! I’m the producing director of the show and have been working on it for over two years. It’s coming up July 30-31 at Dance Place. I hope you’ll come out!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?  

“Gradients of Blue, the Story of Ben Levine”  (I really like using gradients of blue in my lighting designs.)
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? 

Nothing! OK, maybe make all blonde boys gay.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

Theater magic!
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

They should check out some of the amazing work that artists like Sean Dorsey and the Theater Offensive are creating, which are perfect examples of how art can speak to politics in a different way.
What would you walk across hot coals for?

An iced mocha in the morning (at Zeke’s or Big Bear) and pastries from Grassroots Gourmet.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That gay men are delicate and can’t do hard labor. This stereotype is especially present for gay male dancers. My work in the theater requires a ton of “totes masc” carpentry and heavy lifting, as well as down and dirty painting, dying and general mess making.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Um, see my previous comment on pop culture.
What’s the most overrated social custom?

Standing ovations at shows. Every show gets one regardless of if it’s deserving, and if I’m in the audience of a show and I don’t feel like it deserves a standing ovation, then I feel like a jerk for being the only one sitting in a sea of standing people.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?

A MacArthur Genius Grant. So many amazing dance artists whose work I value (Elizabeth Streb, Shen Wei, Liz Lerman, Kyle Abraham) have received this award.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?

How to dress better.
Why Washington?

While the arts might not be the first thing non-Washingtonians associate with D.C., our nation’s capital has an amazing theater scene. D.C. is a great place to make and to see performance and I’m proud to call it my home.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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