The Village Voice

 

These fine jewels don't rest on black velvet; they spin, glistening in the fire of dance
O.D.'ing on Beauty
by Deborah Jowitt
February 13, 2004

 

I go to concerts by Doug Varone for a fix of gorgeous, strangely evasive sensuality that shivers off the stage and into the audience. Varone's dancers often seem to yearn for the ineffable. But unlike heroes of the 19th-century Romantic trope, what they want is always close at hand, breathing on their hair, curling close to them, falling into their arms—and then glancing off, shying away, and slipping into another equally fraught union.

n duets like Short Story, which Varone and Nina Watt danced with devastating subtlety at the Joyce, the connections and misconnections are small and heartbreaking—a slight shrug away from a touch, a hand that hovers just above a partner's shoulder and then retracts. In a work like the 2003 Of the Earth Far Below, Varone explodes fragile intimacy into something like apocalypse. The dancers race on and off the

 


Varone's troupe in Castles
(photo: Richard Termine)

stage, topple, crawl, drag one another, freeze suddenly, shove, heap up in unfriendly ways. They're like mad dogs or a mob running amok in the brilliantly deranged rhythms of Steve Reich's Triple Quartet. The curtain comes down, and they're still at it.

Varone's fascination with density and constant change, his avoidance of unison, can be both exhilarating and fatiguing to watch. Lots of beautiful, slippery complexity makes parts of his brand-new Castles look like a less drastic version of Earth. In a witty duet for John Beasant III and Daniel Charon, the rare unison dancing is a welcome shock. Varone's lyricism, like that of José Limón (in whose company he once danced), is earthy and muscular, if more dissembling, and Prokofiev's Waltz Suite, Opus 110 presses tumult and tang into the familiar rush of 3/4 time. We seem to be watching stories begin and never finish, castles that crumble even as they're being built.

His dancers do him proud, and he lets us focus more closely on them in the 1993 Rise (music by John Adams): the ravishing Adriane Fang, with Ryan Corristan standing in for injured Eddie Taketa; Stephanie Liapis and Kayvon Pourazar; Natalie Desch and Charon. There's a terrific solo for Beasant and a fine trio for Fang, Charon, and Catherine Miller. More riches!

 

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