It’s just after 6 PM, and the dancers are pushing open the Lobero’s exit doors with fervor, smiling into the warm, late afternoon sun as they chatter over the day’s successful rehearsal.
“I’m still a little surprised we finished right on time,” marvels Whitney Dufrene, looking pleased with the prospect of heading into an early dinner. Never mind that opening night is tomorrow, or that Doug Varone and Dancers’ weekend performance will mark the culmination of a rich and storied residency platform. What matters most is the here-and-now; and right now the company is thrilled to be heading home.
“I have always valued the journey of discovery much more than what it could produce at the very end,” remarked Varone, whose residency has been punctuated by the conservation of presence and awareness–an approach that has encouraged each of his eight dancers to explore a collective approach to Somewhere while maintaining their individual relationships to its iconic roots.
And so it would seem fitting for DANCEworks’ final production to embody nothing less than a piercing distillation of movement and music, where the pure and marvelous details roar over the traditional din of a linear narrative. Dianne Vapnek’s vision of underscoring the significance of the artistic process over the assets of a finished production is in full representation at the hands of Varone, where each of Somewhere’s vibrant and vulnerable sections lifts the viewer into emotional action even as it laments over the state of our humanity.
“It’s important to me that the audience comes away with a message, as personal as that may be, rather than just commenting over this pretty thing that they just saw,” said Varone on day one, and over the past four weeks, he’s succeeded in rising gracefully from under the weight of Bernstein’s momentous score to achieve a clear and intimate voice in the face of so much unavoidable history.
As the last dancer waves their goodbyes, a lively circle has formed in a corner of the stage, with Varone holding court among the tech crew and assistants, swirling a glass of bourbon in his hand without a trace of concern. “I feel great about tomorrow,” he says thoughtfully, “I might actually be able to sleep well tonight.” One by one, the crew members set their empty glasses down and shuffle towards the back door.
The ghostlight is switched on, and the stalwart theater stands in silence, waiting, for Somewhere to begin.