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By Susan Yung
Doug Varone and Dancers at 25
Varone’s Carrugi. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, Courtesy Varone.
Whether in older or new work, for one or all eight of his dancers, the emotional potency of Doug Varone’s choreography is a constant. Doug Varone and Dancers is celebrating its 25th anniversary in a season that includes two programs at the Joyce Theater Oct. 9–14 and engagements planned in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, and upstate New York.
The company, known for its fluid and complex movement, has performed in more than 100 cities on four continents, and has been a fixture at dance festivals including Bates, Jacob’s Pillow, and American Dance Festival. As the resident company of 92nd Steet Y Harkness Dance Center, the troupe will present another intimate “Stripped” performance in January.
For the Joyce, Varone is creating two new works, both about a half-hour long but divergent in music and emotional tone. The company will also perform selected repertoire, including Boats Leaving, Ballet Mécanique, and the solo Nocturne. In the new work to a fraught and unsettling score by composer Julia Wolfe, Varone says, “there’s something driving underneath it…The trick is to figure out how to share that so that it has a universal feel.”
Mozart’s oratorio La Betulia Liberata accompanies the second premiere, which centers around love and camaraderie. The music’s grandeur is paralleled in strong, frenetic dynamics, contrasting with charged intimate exchanges. Liberata has two modalities: that of “smaller work that has meaning to it, and larger work that deals with how space can change,” says Varone.
For those who can’t see the company live, a video retrospective is ongoing at www.dougvaroneanddancers.org.
Varone, a riveting performer (“I feel like I have one more dance in me,” he says) has had many unforgettable dancers in his company. “I look for people who understand how not to perform,” he remarks, when asked what he seeks in auditions. A keen sentiment from a choreographer who has quietly made his presence indelible for a quarter century.