Doug Varone and Dancers celebrates its 25th anniversary with new choreography and a year packed with exciting performances and activities. Whether creating whirlwinds of highly kinetic, fluid movements or mining the complexity of relationships and community, Varone places indelible humanity at the core of his work. The Company will kick off this landmark year at The Joyce Theater, October 9-14, with two distinct programs conveying the vibrant physicality, breadth of vision and slight wit that distinguish its repertoire. Highlights include the world premiere of Able to Leap Tall Buildings, set to music by Julia Wolfe, and the New York premiere of Carrugi choreographed to Mozart’s mythic oratorio, La Betulia liberata. The program will also feature revivals of some of the Company’s signature works especially reconstructed for this occasion and including the Bessie award-winning Boats Leaving; Ballet Mécanique, propelled by the driving rhythms of George Antheil’s iconoclastic score from 1925; Rise, set to music by John Adams; and Aperture, set to music by Franz Shubert.
The N.Y premiere of Carrugi
Set to selections from Mozart’s oratorio La Betulia liberata, Carrugi delves into the libretto’s themes of duplicity, heroism and mythmaking. The choreography loosely borrows imagery from the oratorio’s libretto and uses it as a springboard to explore the universal themes of humanity that are laced within the score’s action. Carrugi’s title is taken from the Italian word for the narrow and often steep lanes that penetrate the heart of Italy’s Liguria region. Inspired by the patterns and energy of these labyrinths, the dance will visually and architecturally rise and fall against Mozart’s musical lines.
Ballet Mécanique (2001)
Critically acclaimed as one of the Company’s groundbreaking works, Ballet Mécanique is a dramatic investigation of the intersection between dance and technology. George Antheil’s iconoclastic score from 1925 sets the piece in motion – loud, percussive and unsentimental rhythms that ultimately explode into a thrilling cacophony. The choreography builds on the intensity, with angular, “machine-like” gestures and giant steps. Large-scale, stark and pulsing images of natural and abstract energy created by award-winning designer Wendall Harrington are projected upon scrims and eventually the performers, mapping a continuously changing stage space that enhanced the visceral effect of Varone’s choreography.
In the trio Aperture, set to Franz Shubert’s Moments Musicaux, No. 2, a series of seemingly random gestures gently accumulate into a private conversation. As if seen through the confines of a photographer's lens, the dancers shift in and out of a focal light, constantly rearranging the emotional balance of this small intimate work.
The world premiere of Able to Leap Tall Buildings
Able to Leap Tall Buildings is a new duet set to music by Julia Wolfe’s haunting score Cruel Sister. Varone used super hero action figure dolls in stop motion poses to create a unique push and pull vocabulary. The exploration has yielded a roller coaster of entangled images propelling this oddly tender duet forward in awkward jarring ways.
Honored with a Bessie Award in 2006 and considered by many as a masterpiece, Boats Leaving probes into the theme of departure on many levels. Varone compiled years of clippings from The New York Times, photographs from the news, business and sport sections, which, he felt, implied a story. He then de-contextualized and staged more than 60 of these images. “All is elegiac,” Claudia La Rocco from The New York Times extols. “from Arvo Pärt’s choral work “Te Deum” to Ms. Cox’s “last light of day” design. The eight dancers move far more slowly here, exploding into short, constricted bursts only to curl back into themselves and freeze, as if remembering some great hurt. Community and connection return, but staggered by isolation.”
Rise is set to John Adam’s minimalist, yet moving, Fearful Symmetries, and has been reconstructed as part of the Company’s mission to revive seminal works from its past 25 years. One of Varone’s first signature dances, the work “rises almost to the ecstatic,” the Minneapolis’ Star Tribune writes. “Dancers leap through the air and are snatched out of it by other dancers, keeping them, we suspect, from flying. The excitement keeps building until it’s almost too much, then dissolves into an ending so quiet that it virtually pulls you out of your seat.”
Schedule and Ticket information
Carrugi (NY premiere) Ballet Mécanique, Aperture
Oct 9, 7:30pm, Oct 11, 8pm, Oct 13, 8pm & Oct 14, 2pm
Able to Leap Tall Buildings (world premiere), Boats Leaving, Rise
Oct 10, 7:3pm, Oct 12, 8pm, Oct13, 2pm & Oct 14, 7:30pm
Tickets for the performances start at $10, and are available by calling JoyceCharge (212-242-0800); by visiting The Joyce Theater Box Office (Monday-Friday, 12:00-6:00pm); or by charging them online at joyce.org The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at West 19th Street.