Varone moved by the elegance of form

TRESCA WEINSTEIN, Special to the Times Union

Sunday, June 13, 2004


Now in its 18th season, the New York City-based company danced works from each decade of its existence.

His pieces -- whether "Home" from 1988 or "Castles," which premiered this year -- have in common is a sense of movement as a natural extension of being. Even when they're leaping and spinning, Varone's fabulous, individual dancers, joined Friday by three guest artists, convey the emotional core of each move.

"Castles" is as passionate and full of drama as its score, a suite of waltzes by Prokofiev. But the sweeping movement, closely knit compositions and romantic pas de deux, athletic and impressive as they are, happily never transcend the human. Between the whirling arms and swirling turns, Varone tucks in sudden odd, playful gestures and interactions that have the effect of bringing the lush, fairy-tale waltzes (including "Cinderella" and "War and Peace") down to earth.

The two duets in the piece are standouts. John Beasant III and Daniel Charon circle each other in a fraught standoff that dissolves only occasionally into intimacy. Natalie Desch and Kayvon Pourazar begin in a pose straight from classical ballet, as he supports her extended arabesque. But they end up somewhere else entirely, with Pourazar face down on the floor and Desch outstretched atop him.

Going back a decade, "Rise," a breakthrough piece for Varone, is full of movement as loose and floating as the light tunics the dancers wear. Set to music by John Adams, the dance introduces four couples, each dressed in a different jewel tone, and then brings them together in a colorful explosion of movement. But no matter how high they kick or leap, the dancers always seem connected to the ground, moving easily from standing to the floor and back again.
"Home," choreographed during Varone's early phase of stripping dance down to its minimalist essentials, is a poignant, utterly truthful glimpse of a relationship in crisis. As danced by Varone and guest artist Peggy Baker, using two chairs as props, the duet communicates the almost instantaneous shifts between resentment, tenderness, resignation and despair with small, telling gestures, body language and turns of the head. An example: She moves to sit down but he places his foot on her chair before she can get there. She turns away, and he reaches up to entwine his fingers with hers where they are clasped behind her back. Magnetically drawn together and repulsed by turns, these two are clearly facing a turning point that will result in either an ending or a renewal.