Doug Varone and Dancers

Image courtesy of NYC-Arts

This weekend was wonderfully full of dance in every form.  My friday modern class was better than ever and I got to meet up with a dear friend from Bates Dance Festival and take yoga together.  It's always fun to geek out over dance, especially when all of your friends are pre-med.

But more importantly, I went to see Doug Varone and Dancers at the Harkness Dance Festival at the 92nd Street Y.  I have seen many clips of Varone's choreography, but never a full piece.

The formal of this evening dance event, because that is what it really was, was to talk about his style and break down the piece before the audience saw the full work.  He also included an excerpt of one of his more "expansive" pieces, Rise.  As a dancer, the process is one of the most interesting parts to me.  I love to think about how a piece was created and see all the different phases it went through to be ready to perform.  The amount of editing and refining is unbelievable.  This New York Times review did not enjoy the stripped down portion of the structure Varone calls Stripped/Dressed, however I respectfully disagree.  The article claims that he did not give the audience enough agency in understanding the work, but I don't think that detracted from the piece.  On the one hand, yes it is good for audiences to be able to discover meaning in the piece for themselves and take away from the dance what they will, but at the same time guidance is never wrong.  The Stripped section, for me, pointed out some aspects of the dance that may have been lost on me otherwise; it left me comfortable with the larger image of the phrase I had seen four times, allowing me to focus in on the details.  

Aside from the formal of the work, the piece that was premiered, Mouth Above Water was equally as entrancing.  The dance was full of gestures that were harrowing and human at once.  The score Varone chose for the piece, Julia Wolfe's Cruel Sister created a heightened emotional environment.  

I can say without a doubt that it was the most emotionally potent dance piece I have seen in my 19 years of life.


  1. I too found the Stripped/Dressed format to be thought-provoking and illuminating and could not have disagreed more with the snippy tone and judgment of the Time's reviewer. Cynthia


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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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