Perhaps Doug Varone & Dancers, opening at the Joyce this Tuesday, are beautiful ducklings. Always a bit odd, irreducible in their lush physicality, they haven’t readily found a home between the dance world’s Uptown and Downtown camps. But that aesthetic homelessness translates into something else—an artistic maturity that Varone now admits to hitting. “I’ve matured as a human being,” he says. “I figured out who the hell I was. But also, artistically, I’ve realized it’s not the art of knowing how to make a dance anymore. It’s about painting.”
In keeping with this shift from a nuts-and-bolts schema to a more intuitive one, Varone describes his latest work, Sleeping With Giants, as “a nonlinear piece that lives in many parts of my brain.
“It tells the story of a man who cannot keep up with the world any longer—it’s very disorienting for the audience. Brutal to watch and brutal to dance.”
While Varone has often played with issues of musicality, his recent work in opera has influenced his attunement to story. “Sleeping With Giants is the most narrative piece I’ve done in a long time. Four years ago I would’ve said, ‘These are implied gestures, implied scenes.’ In Giants every movement has a purpose. I think that’s what makes this work dangerous—it walks a definite path, a thin line.”
The dangerous moments come from years of working alone. “I do feel isolated. We’ve had no allegiance to anything, no real champion along the way. We’ve chugged along and created work that’s very insular.” Varone admits, without missing a beat, “I feel proud about that.”