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Review | Doug Varone and Dancers

A Dazzling Finale for DANCEworks at the Lobero

'Somewhere' | Credit: David Bazemore Photo

The world premiere of Somewhere, Doug Varone’s ravishing take on the orchestral score to West Side Story, made a fitting conclusion to Dianne Vapnek’s DANCEworks project at the Lobero. Dedicated to Vapnek and filled with the most sublime invention, Somewhere seems destined to become a classic work of contemporary dance. Dancers Courtney Barth, Hollis Bartlett, Bradley Beakes, Jake Bone, Whitney Dufrene, DeQuan Lewis, Aya Wilson, and Ryan Yamauchi delivered a joyous performance brimming over with nuance, detail, and emotional heft.

Building on the already saturated feelings embodied in the music, Varone’s vision of West Side Story as pure dance, stripped of its narrative associations, allowed for a new connection to be established between the audience and the work. An amazing male duet set to the song “Somewhere” at the center of the piece used rugged, complex floorwork to seize and amplify the score’s powerful suggestion of yearning and overcoming. Throughout the piece, the company made countless rapid changes and evanescent combinations look effortless. The entire work stands as a testament to this choreographer’s prolific creation of movement. A brilliant lighting design by Derek Van Heel sprinkled visual fairy dust on the entire experience. 

After the intermission, Varone performed Nocturne, a poignant solo projecting equal parts vulnerability and wisdom. The duet that followed featured Bradley Beakes and Aya Wilson moving to a score by Rachmaninoff. The final piece, Lux from 2006, looks even stronger 13 years on. This is surely some of the best movement ever set to the music of Philip Glass. Congratulations to everyone involved on an unforgettable night. 

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