Doug Varone and Dancers illuminated the Flynn on November 16

BURLINGTON -- Did the Flynn audience see rodents run across the stage on the night of Nov. 16? Doug Varone hopes so. Castles, the first work performed by Doug Varone and Dancers on that night, is set to Sergei Prokofievs Waltz Suite, Opus 110. Half of the six waltzes are from Prokofievs opera Cinderella, and Varone wanted to pay homage to the original source material. There are hints of fairy talesyou might quickly glimpse four white micebut all within a contemporary context, Varone says, almost with a wink. Natalie Desch and Ryan Corriston were like Cinderella and the pursuing Prince during their passionate pas de deux, constantly separating and then coming together again. And the sensual, energetic duet performed by John Beasant III and Daniel Charon could have been the Cinderella story in a contemporary context. Varones second piece, Boats Leaving, is choreographed to Estonian composer Arvo P_s hauntingly beautiful Te Deum. In his hymn, P_ created a series of chant-like melodies continually floating to the surface of a lone unchanging triadlike boats leaving a shore to venture into an immense ocean. Varones dancers skillfully accentuated P_s technique by fluidly raising and lowering themselves throughout the work, occasionally standing still to heighten the effect even more. They also continually huddled together and then broke apart, like a community struggling to remain cohesive but forced to disband. The final Varone work, Lux, was performed to Philip Glasss The Light. Glasss piece commemorates the momentous work of Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, who presented evidence challenging the existence of an aether and underscored the uniformity of the speed of light. Glass was profoundly impressed by the two scientists famous 1887 experiment, stating that he believed their discoveries formed, in his words, an almost before and after sequence. The before represented something like 19th century physics. The after marks the onset of modern scientific research. Although Glasss dichotomy may be more poetic than real, his music and Varones choreography celebrate lights relentless displacement of darkness. At the Flynn, an illuminated disc at the rear of the stage gradually rose like a full moon while the music and the dancers (dressed in black) started slowly, and then abruptly moved into high gear until near the end of the performance. Lux ended quietly as a light from above shone brightly on the dancer who had begun the festivities. Fittingly, that dancer would have been Doug Varone himself, but Varone had injured his back and did not dance. Varone did not present Dense Terrain at the Flynn on Nov. 16, even though the work had been co-commissioned by the Flynn and advertised earlier. According to Flynn Artistic Director Arnie Malina, the production was found to be too technically challenging. Dense Terrain involves video projection and theater, and has received mixed reviews. Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times called it numbingly tedious, but Tobi Tobias of Bloomberg acclaimed Varones 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. Doug Varone and Dancers did not need sophisticated video or complex set design to make themselves understood on Nov. 16. And they surely did not need four white mice.

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