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Issue Date: September 2008

Doug Varone

Oct. 4
E.J. Thomas Hall

Alchemy is the ancient art of mixing unusual materials to procure fascinating results, something Doug Varone and Dancers know a little bit about. The award-winning dance troupe combined writings from the Bible, the words of slain journalist Daniel Pearl and an original musical score to create the show that premieres this fall.

For Doug Varone, the formula for a perfect dance piece starts with the music. The veteran choreographer found the inspiration for Alchemy at Carnegie Hall, where he heard a musical piece too affecting to pass up.

“When I find a score that I’m drawn to,” says Varone, “its emotional integrity compels me to make a dance to it.”

The score in question was Steven Reich’s Daniel Variations, a four-movement piece written in homage to Pearl, who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. To bring the music to life, Varone’s male dancers represent Pearl and his Biblical counterpart, the prophet Daniel, while the female dancers are included in the work to “add an ephemeral feel,” says Varone.

The final ingredient for Alchemy was its title, which Varone drew from an interview he had read with Pearl’s sister. “She used it to describe her brother’s death,” he remembers, “and how she hopes that good will come out of it.”

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