[Doug Varone] is that rare choreographer with a gift for expressing emotion through dance. —Dunning, Jennifer. “Physical Side of an Emotional World.” New York Times, Jan. 10, 1994.
If Euripides is right that “every man is like the company he [is] wont to keep,” what does it mean that Hanky Panky likes the company of daredevils?
Doug Varone and Dancers, or “DOVA,” is an experimental modern dance company known for “dance charged with energy, emotions and implicit narratives.” Hanky Panky has been a corporate sponsor of Varone and his “company of daredevils” for many years. Our co-founder and CEO, Lida Orzeck, also serves on DOVA’s Board of Directors, and DOVA performed at the 2009 launch party for hankypanky.com.
Many of Varone’s group works are about social settings or moments that most of us can recognize. A congregation in “Cantata 78/Every Waking Hour” (1986); a group of traveling musicians in “Cansos de Trobairitz” (1983); a crowd of strangers in “Strict Love” (1994); couples in “Possession” (1994); and a wallflower at a dance in “As Natural as Breathing” (2000). Varone’s choreography highlights the emotional experience of individuals in group settings.
Even in solo dances, Varone plays with the idea that an individual’s expression of private emotion is a kind of performance. In “Facts and Fiction” (1986), the dancer bows to the audience in between movements that suggest, alternately, uneasiness or confidence, gentleness or combativeness. In “The Fabulist” (2014), the solo dancer is a “fabulist,” or person who makes up stories; DOVA’s press materials clarify that the story telling at the heart of this piece are narratives built from “the memories of our lives,” which each of us create for ourselves and others.
Varone is also remarkable for choreographing dances for plays and operas, and for being a committed educator.
Lida, Gale Epstein, Hanky Panky co-founder, President and Creative Director, and Larissa Shirley King, Hanky Panky’s Senior Designer, attended DOVA’s opening night gala at The Joyce Theater earlier this month. DOVA premiered “Dome” (2014) and performed a revival of “Castles” (2004). In a rare treat, Varone soloed in “The Fabulist” (2014), returning to the stage for the first time in eight years. Of the performance, Larissa said:
The performance was thrilling. Castles was electrifying, The Fabulist was introspective and quite moving, and the world premiere of Dome was an amazing combination of tension built through stillness, mixed with incredible moments of high energy.
So how do you judge Hanky Panky by the company it keeps? Like Doug Varone and Dancers, we’re rethinking form and function for bodies in motion.
Upcoming performances by DOVA include “Stripped/Dressed” at the Edison Theater at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, January 23-24, 2015. Please click here to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to Doug Varone and Dancers.