Doug Varone is waving a yellow legal pad across the stage, his enthusiasm mounting as he paces between an assembly of weary dancers. “I need more rawness,” he roars, and flings the pad above his head, sending a cascade of loose pages into the group.
Laughter erupts, Varone smiles broadly and settles into a folding chair, and fires off quips of commentary that the dancers absorb with ease. “Less arms in jukebox!” “More direction in quartet!” “What was the softness all about in jitterbug?”
This is the Varone vocabulary, an intimate language that injects saucy humor into direction so pointed, it’s no wonder he’s able to tease out a tableau of precision from his adept dancers over and time again.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the art of communication,” he said. “How I transfer my vision and movement from my body to someone else’s is something I think about a lot.”
On the Lobero stage, his voice rings clear and direct: Hollis Bartlett lunges into a quick-footed solo with unreserved poise; Ryan Yamauchi and Brad Beakes intertwine in a duet of aching discovery, and Courtney Barth punctuates the space with searing confidence. When Aya Wilson cuts through her solo with palpable ferocity, an audience member cries out in approval. Justifiably fatigued, the dancers nevertheless push forward, lifting and leaping with unwavering composure as Varone looks on in encouragement.
Somewhere over the past three weeks, Somewhere has swelled into a study of mindfulness and magic, the movement pouring out into the furthest corners of the stage as the dancers dip and dive to the cues of Leonard Bernstein’s electrifying canons.
“What does it feel like,” Varone asks, as they collapse into a heap of repose. “It’s hard,” admits Barth, “we’re working with a lot of different textures.”
Without missing a beat, a DANCEworks supporter approaches the stage and sets down a large pot of vegetable soup, smiling warmly as she describes the various farmers’ market veggies that made the ingredient list. “For nourishing tired, dancing bodies,” she offers, and the company gushes with gratitude.
“That’s it, we’re never leaving,” says Bartlett, and the dancers nod in agreement.
One by one, they peel themselves off of the sweat-streaked Marley floor and wiggle their spines in adjustment. Varone surveys the room and waves them off.
“I’m feeling really good about the big line items,” he assures them. “Let’s step away from it now and come back again tomorrow.”