Doug Varone and Dancers Jan. 23 and 24

Celebrated choreographer demystifies the creative process

Doug Varone and Dancers. Hi-res images upon request. (Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann (3))

A dance may begin with a thought or gesture but making art requires more than mere inspiration.

On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 23 and 24, Doug Varone and Dancers will present a pair of performances as part of the Edison Ovations Series at Washington University in St. Louis. Taken together, the two evenings provide an intimate, start-to-finish look at the creative process with one of today’s most inventive and breathtaking choreographers.

The Friday program, titled “Stripped/Dressed,” is divided in two halves. In “Stripped,” the company takes the stage in simple rehearsal clothes. Varone, serving as emcee, describes his approach while the dancers, working on a bare stage under house lights, demonstrate how fleeting movements begin to cohere into a distinct vocabulary and finally into a particular piece.

Then, for “Dressed,” the dancers perform the finished work — the elegiac “Boats Leaving” (2006) — complete with music, costumes and theatrical lighting.

The Saturday program, titled “An Evening of Doug Varone and Dancers,” consists of three different works, including two new pieces and a classic dance drawn from Varone’s extensive repertory.

Opening the performance will be “Rise,” a spinning, gravity-defying work from 1993, which helped to make the choreographer’s reputation. Next comes “The Fabulist” (2014), a solo set to David Lang’s “Death Speaks.” Concluding the evening will be “Dome” (also 2014), a dystopian, serpentine work for eight dancers set to Christopher Rouse’s Trombone Concerto.

“Doug Varone’s ornate movement tends to crackle like electricity,” noted The New York Times, in its review of “Dome” and “The Fabulist.” “Churning this way and that, it appears to be propelled less by muscles and bones than by centrifugal force.”

Since its founding in 1986, Doug Varone and Dancers has earned an international reputation for its expansive vision, versatility and technical prowess. Now in its 28th season, the company has received numerous honors and awards, including 11 Bessie Awards, and performed across the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada and South America

Tickets and sponsors

“Stripped/Dressed” begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23. “An Evening of Doug Varone and Dancers” begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24.

Tickets are $36, or $32 seniors, $28 for Washington University faculty and staff and $20 for students and children.

Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call 314-935-6543, e-mail or visit

Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.

Doug Varone and Dancers receives funding support from the Alphawood Foundation, American Dance Abroad, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, Fan Fox and Leslie Samuels Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, Jerome Robbins Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the New York Community Trust and the Shubert Foundation.

Additional support is provided by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.