Beyond The Break

“Varone puts the beating heart at the center of his work.”
 –Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post

Music by Jake Shimabukuro, Various songs
Lighting by Joshua Epstein
Costumes by Liz Prince

Beyond the Break was commissioned by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. It premiered on July 24, 2007 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center.


"Both the choreography and the score for “Victorious” represent the two creators in a winter mindset. The cello and piano lines often war against each other, perhaps more obviously in this reduction of the score for the two instruments. They come into relative, then perfect, melodic harmony and pull away again continually. And that is somewhat the effect of the dancing, which pours out onto [the] stage,…with quietly shifting blocks of rectangular dark and light providing smaller frames for the solos, duet, trio and full-company section that make up the piece."
 –Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times

Music by Edward Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
Lighting by Jane Cox
Costumes by Liz Prince

Victorious was commissioned by the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts for the 2007 Bard SummerScape Festival. It premiered on July 5, 2007 at Bard College.

Dense Terrain

"Again and again while watching Dense Terrain your eye swerves back to the dancing. The ceaseless, lilting motion of the fast sections as the dancers flood and recede; the vivid postures of the slow parts; the precipitous intimacy of the duets-all these are infinitely satisfying."
 –Joy Goodwin, The Village Voice

"With the premiere of Dense Terrain , [Doug Varone] revealed a masterly ability to blend dance, music, video and set design with an idea about the human predicament: the daunting challenge of not merely speaking, but of making oneself understood."
 –Tobi Tobias, Bloomberg News

Music by Nathan Larson, An original score
Lighting by Jane Cox
Costumes by Liz Prince
Video by Blue Land Media
Sets by Allen Moyer


“Varone himself led off ‘Lux,’ a hopeful, outward-looking work that takes its title form the Glass score, ‘The Light.’ Displaying his marvelously fluid range of motion in his shoulders, he swung his arms in wide arcs and seemed to conjure the increasingly wide-open, celebratory movement that followed, as the other dancers began to join in. As a white disc of a moon rises imperceptibly at the middle of the inky cyclorama, the dancers ride along the accumulating energy of Glass’ score — beautiful, somewhat wild creatures devouring space. Varone’s controlled lushness and ever-changing, subtly controlled stage picture give a heartfelt depth and power to the cascading momentum.”
  – Dance View Times, New York

Music by Philip Glass, The Light
Lighting by Robert Wierzel
Costumes by Liz Prince

Lux premiered at the Joyce Theater, New York City, on October 24, 2006. Lux was solely commissioned by the Daniel and Dianne Vapnek Family Fund. It was created, in part, while in residence at Summerdance, Santa Barbara.

Boats Leaving

“I swear I heard voices—people talking, muttering, worrying, crying, shouting, laughing, bantering, flirting, arguing and doing the other dozens of other sounds we hear and make during the course of our lives. None of Doug Varone’s dancers on stage at the American Dance Festival said anything aloud. Yet there are so many conversations going on in the movement material packed into a phrase—surely there were voices.
…[In ‘Boats Leaving’] Varone moves the whole conversation into new emotionally treacherous waters. His dances are always about relationships and community and in this astonishing and disturbing work, he has the courage to take us inside the darkness of communities unraveling. Stillness is powerful in Varone’s work, like the silences we engage in at awkward, intense or deep moments. Varone immerses himself in the moments in between—the silences, stillnesses, the deeper story.”

  – The News and Observer (Durham, NC)

“I would dare to call [“Boats Leaving” ] a masterpiece. … The dance is based on brief freeze-frame images of groups of people -- derived from newspaper clippings -- that dissolve into movement that leads to the next tableau. The motion in between the fixed arrangements slowly acquires tremendous emotional force. Simple standing postures become eloquent. Prone bodies pushing themselves across the floor take on a tragic dimension. Arms raised skyward seem to cry out. The participants stalwartly cluster together as a group, evoking hope or at least tenacity, in the face of a threatened bleak outcome. They remain united even when conflict among them spreads like a rampant disease. This makes the end of the piece, when they finally separate, each leaving alone, almost unbearable. Varone's genius here consists of using tactics that are strictly formal, utterly devoid of sentiment, to arouse the spectators' deepest feelings.”
  – Bloomberg News

Music by Arvo Pärt, Te Deum
Lighting by Jane Cox
Costumes by Liz Prince

Boats Leaving premiered at the American Dance Festival, July 6, 2006. It was commissioned by the American Dance Festival with funding support from the Doris Duke Awards for New Work. Major funding support for Boats Leaving was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


“There’s no looking away from such explosive but subtle works as ‘Castles.’ Rarely do you find a choreographer so dedicated to the full and generous complexity of the human spirit. Many choreographers can create interesting movement; few can make it mean so much.”
  – Associated Press

“Doug Varone’s ‘Castles’ is the best new dance piece I’ve seen in a long time. I watched it, with growing admiration, on three consecutive nights. It brings together, distilled and heightened, the qualities Varone is generally known for—the physical excitement, the depth of telling, the implication of story. And ‘Castles’ perfectly suits his company, which, although diverse in look, is so united in approach (and so carefully prepared) that it really does seem to carry out his purpose like a single instrument.”
  – New York Observer

“When a dance speaks to our hearts, we want it to finish the sentence. In "Castles," Varone satisfies that need without submitting to anything as straightforward as a storyline. The dance progresses from obsessive intensity to long-view dispassion, like Prokofiev's Waltz Suite, the music here. Keenly attentive to this richly conflicted music, Varone makes a dance as nuanced as it is kinetically thrilling.”
  – Newsday

“Whether Castles is a series of discrete stories or chapters from a book, or a story with one through line is unimportant. It can be whatever you want it to, as long as what you want is romance. Clearly, something Russian is going on. The open allusiveness and the variety of the encounters make the work not only worth seeing a second time-they make it better the second time. You could probably people the whole thing with characters from Chekhov if you felt like it, or for that matter Nabokov. Every man's home is his castle, after all.”
  – The Dance View Times, New York

Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Waltz Suite, Opus 110
Lighting by Jane Cox and Joshua Epstein
Costumes by Liz Prince

Castles premiered at Dartmouth University on January 15, 2004. It was commissioned by the Carlsen Center of the Johnson County Community College, KS. Charles R. Rogers, Artistic Director. Additional funding support for Castles was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Castles was created, in part, during residencies at the Bates Dance Festival and at the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.

As Natural as Breathing

“‘As Natural As Breathing’ was a playful, jazzy group romp, casual on the surface but with subtle, sharp-edged undercurrents. In the midst of all the exuberant fun, Varone performed a riveting solo of bluesy introspection, his confusion eloquently articulate as he subsequently spun through nearly half a dozen partners in quick succession, as if trying them on for size.”
  – Boston Globe

Music by Joey DeFrancesco, Art Neville, G. Parks, Roscoe Gordon
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Liz Prince

As Natural As Breathing premiered at the American Dance Festival, Durham, NC, July 10-12, 2000. It was commissioned by the American Dance Festival through the Doris Duke Awards for New Work. Additional support was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Short Story
11/16/01 (Limon Company) 2/1/02 (Varone Company)

“A turbulent give-and-take between a man and a woman, ‘Short Story’ is a duet with an emotional wallop. Varone’s focus is anything but narrow, and the passions are those of every heart. They are generalized, distilled and abstracted. The brilliance is in the telling. Along the way there are powerful expressions of rejection. The ruling image is never cheap, never related to a simple love-hate encounter. Rather, the complexity of feeling is expressed in the complexity of entangled bodies. The recurring motif is ‘yes’ but ‘no’.”
  – The New York Times

Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lighting by Ted Sullivan
Costumes by Rachel Carr

Short Story premiered at the Joyce Theater on November 13, 2001.


“As the fine new Tomorrow begins, one dancer moves close, tentatively around another; when she drops into a pose, she immediately jolts slightly out of it as if thinking she’s made a mistake, then settles again. In another duet, dancers dart their limbs into the intimate negative spaces formed by each other’s bodies; when he leaps to crouch on top of her, the firm contact is startling. Fragrant songs by Reynaldo Hahn from the turn of the last century intensify the poignancy of the work.

“You see the same tender, non-connecting gestures—the hand that brushes the air above a shoulder—and a physical language of ambivalence: the gathering followed by the tossing away, the snatching that dissolves, the startles and shrugs, the soft flailing, the bold leaps and melts into the floor. Before one dancer leaves the recumbent crowd at the end of Tomorrow, she lies back down for a second, perhaps wanting to remember how that stillness felt.”

  – The Village Voice

Music by Reynaldo Hahn
Lights by David Ferri
Costumes by Lynne Steincamp

Tomorrow premiered on January 5, 2000 at the Joyce Theater, New York. Tomorrow was created, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was created in residence at the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME. The company’s Bates residency was funded, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Bel Canto

“‘Bel Canto’ is exuberant and funny—laugh-out-loud funny—though in no way superficial. At the heart of the piece is, essentially, love: love’s unquenchable ebullience, its extravagances and embarrassments.”
  – New York Magazine

“‘Bel Canto’ is ebullient and comic. Using excerpts from Bellini’s opera ‘Norma,’ Mr. Varone matches the trills and high notes of the vocalizing with ingenuity. Like the singing chorus, the dancing swells.”
  - The New York Times

“In ‘Bel Canto,’ Varone’s gentle, quirky touch came through in conversational movement that evoked the longing and vulnerability of romantic encounters-a slight ducking of the head, a crooked elbow going nowhere, a hand hovering near an ear but not touching it.”
  - Los Angeles Times

Music by Vincenzo Bellini, selections from the opera Norma
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Lynne Steincamp

Bel Canto premiered on February 17, 1998, at the Joyce Theater in New York City. It was commissioned by and created in residence at Summerdance Santa Barbara in July, 1997. Additional support for the creation of this work was provided by the Vapnek Family Fund, the Sequoia Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and NYU Tisch Summer Dance Residency Program.


“‘Possession’ was exhilarating. The dance and music keep you on the edge of your seat. You are fascinated with the way it all just keeps happening. Images of the performance are still zipping around in my head.”
  – Santa Barbara News Press

Music by Philip Glass, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Lynne Steincamp

Possession premiered on September 28, 1994, at the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, VA. It was co-commissioned by Virginia Commonwealth University, the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME, and the NYU Tisch Summer Dance Residency Program. The creation of Possession was funded, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Carpenter Foundation.


“...a gem, a family living within the confines of a photographer’s lens, caught in a private gestural conversation that constantly tilts the emotional balance of the composition.”
  – The Village Voice

“’Aperture,’ a trio danced to Schubert, is about disturbed families, told through economical but acute gestures and minimal movement. A hand delicately sweeping against a cheek, a tentativeness moving toward another person, an uneasy touching or an insecure embrace can tell volumes about the stresses of human interrelationships.”
  - Star Tribune, Minneapolis

Music by Franz Schubert, Moments Musicaux, No. 2
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Lynne Steincamp

Aperture premiered at The Joyce Theater in New York on January 9, 1994. It was funded by the 1994 Altogether Different Fund for New Works and was created in residence at Virginia Commonwealth University and through a space grant at the 92nd Street Y Dance Center.


“‘Rise’ rises almost to the ecstatic. 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.”
  – Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Music by John Adams, Fearful Symmetries
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Lynne Steincamp

Rise premiered an October 8, 1993, at the Quick Center for the Arts in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was created in residence at NYU Tisch Summer Dance Residency Program and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia through a generous grant from the Carpenter Foundation.


“‘Home’ depicts in a thousand tiny ways the subtle shades of acceptance, rejection, tender passion and greedy need between two people sharing a life…movement that probes the very heart of human emotions and interactions.”
  – The Baltimore Evening Sun

Music by A Leroy, original composition
Lighting by David Ferri

Home was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Dance Theater.

The Bench Quartet

Music by J.S. Bach, Cantata 78, Jesu der Meine Seele
Lighting by David Ferri
Costumes by Rachel Carr

The Bench Quartet premiered at Performance Space 122 on September 29, 1986. It was created for the first performance of Doug Varone and Dancers and is an excerpt from a larger work entitled “Cantata 78/Every Waking Hour.” The quartet has remained in the repertory since its creation and has become a hallmark work for the company. Based on a created gestural language that parallels the libretto, the work has been taught to and performed by over 30 college and professional repertory companies around the world.


“It was the sort of introduction to an artist’s work that every audience should have. Varone seemed to be working out a dance in his head and on his body. He would walk a few steps, then break into a lush little spiral or stretch his arms out and up in a knottily dramatic gesture. His finger would move to his lips as he paused, deep in thought. Then he would surge into a moment’s jazzy lunge or pivot. He was at home, yet utterly lost. Thought and gutsy, imaginative movement came together and were one with Mr. Varone’s clearly expressed theme.”
  - The New York Times

“Doug Varone performed his mesmerizing 1987 ‘Nocturne’ as if the Chopin music were tapping his shoulder and slipping inside his skin to both inspire and disturb a reverie.”
  - The Village Voice

Music by F. Chopin, Nocturne in D Flat Major, Opus 27, no. 2
Lighting by David Ferri

Nocturne premiered at The Yard in Chilmark, MA on August 26, 1987.

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