From the East Village to the Opera House

Hollis Bartlett, Netta Yerushalmy, Alex Springer, Julia Burrer (jumping in air), and Eddie Taketa (lying down). | CYLIA VON TIEDEMAN

Doug Varone and Dancers made their debut in 1986 at PS 122. Since then, the artist has sustained his career, his company, and his critically acclaimed dance-making while also emerging as a world-class opera director and choreographer. In December and January, the Metropolitan Opera is presenting a revival of the company’s mega-hit “Les Troyens,” for which Varone will be updating his choreography.

To kick off its 25th anniversary season, the company will present two programs of dance at the Joyce Theater, featuring master works from the company’s repertory and two premieres.

“Carrugi,” which will be presented in New York for the first time, is choreographed to selections from Mozart’s oratorio “La Betulia liberata” and delves into the libretto’s themes of duplicity, heroism, and mythmaking. Whirlwinds, eddies, and waves of motion — complete with splashes and sprays that accent individual impulses — flow up and swoop down, as the polymorphous community makes it way through space. Like all of his company pieces, “Carrugi” is a dynamic, kinetic, live moving picture of human relations. This is modern dance at its finest.

Varone will also present the world premiere of a duet from “Able to Leap Tall Buildings,” a larger work with a score by Julia Wolfe that will have its premier in February 2013 at the 92nd Street Y. Varone used superhero action figure dolls in stop-motion poses to create a strange vocabulary for an awkwardly tender pas de deux.

The program will also feature revivals of some of the company’s signature works reconstructed for the occasion, including the award-winning “Boats Leaving” (2006), created by restaging collected news images; “Ballet Mécanique” (2001), propelled by the driving rhythms of George Antheil’s iconoclastic score from 1925; “Rise” (1993), to music by John Adams, considered one of Varone’s first signature works; and “Aperture” (1994), a trio set to music by Franz Schubert.

Choreographer Doug Varone’s company celebrates its 25th anniversary. | PHIL KNOTT

Gay City News caught up with Varone at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, where his dancers are the resident company.

“Directing operas has really made me understand my capacity as an artist,” Varone explained. “Working with opera has made my dramatic dancing-making better, more specific. It’s also amazing work to be in. It offers a larger platform for my imagination.”

But experience comes with time, and 25 years is long in the world of dance.

“The generation gap between me and the dancers is growing,” he said.

The choreographer will not be performing in his work this season, and he is coming to terms gracefully, if contemplatively, with the changes that come with age.

“I’m not dancing, and that allows me to approach my choreography differently now,” Varone said. “I can’t be in the body the way I used to be. Most of the dances I made came out of my body. I am becoming more imagistic in terms of dance-making.”

In addition to an extensive touring schedule throughout the US in 2012-2013, Doug Varone and Dancers has been invited to join in DanceMotion USA, a program developed and funded by the US Department of State and produced by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The company will tour Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru and engage in workshops, master classes, and discussions about arts management and technical production.

The company’s website, at dougvaronedancers.org, has an online series of 25 short videos from its archives. The series features clips of dances from 1986 through 2011, as well as interviews with original cast members and collaborators.

DOUG VARONE AND DANCERS | Joyce Theater | 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St. | Program A: “Carrugi,” “Ballet Mécanique,” “Aperture” | Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 11 & 13 at 8 p.m.; Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. | Program B: “Able to Leap Tall Buildings,” “Boats Leaving,” “Rise” | Oct. 10 & 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.; Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. | $10-$49 | joyce.org or 212-242-0800

 

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