National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $40,000 to New York City’s famed Doug Varone and Dancers for the creative development of the new dance-theatre work entitled Strange Loop. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Doug Varone and Dancers, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”
Doug Varone is collaborating with Oscar Award-winning director and playwright Eric Simonson on Strange Loop, which will interweave dance, theater, and video. Varone and Simonson will work as co-directors to realize an interdisciplinary project inspired by Douglas Hofstader’s 2007 novel, I Am a Strange Loop. Simonson has begun the collaboration by writing a script treatment from which he and Varone will develop a staging in the style of a silent film. The narrative of love and loss will unfold through movement, without spoken dialogue. Through intimate, gestural movement – an embrace, a turning of the head, or even mouthed words – the performers will portray the minute increments in which daily lives unfold. The choreography will establish character, motive and story with the assistance of visual projections by Wendall Harrington. Strange Loop is being developed over the course of 2017 and will receive private and public in-progress showings in NYC, before its ultimate premiere in early 2018.
“Understanding the power of art to change lives in our country, we are honored once again to receive funding from our government to create and present work that matters. As touring artists we’ve witnessed this from both the stage and the classroom in communities all over the United States. We will continue to work tirelessly to build dialogues that educate the imagination, underscoring the importance that the NEA plays in the lives of all Americans,” said Doug Varone, artistic director of Doug Varone and Dancers.
“NEA funding is tremendously important to all arts organizations who receive NEA grants. Not only do these funds support the creation of new American artwork, which will then tour around the country and perhaps even abroad, they also support artist and collaborators' salaries and fees, employing artists and directly impacting our economy,” said Paul Menard, executive director of Doug Varone and Dancers.
“Doug Varone and Dancers command attention as soon as the curtain goes up. Rarely do you find a choreographer so dedicated to the full and generous complexity of the human spirit. Many choreographers can create interesting movement; few can make it mean so much.”
– CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“Varone has an unquenchable instinct for expressing the vagaries of the human heart.”
– ARTS JOURNAL
“This is a company of master dancers, performing masterly choreography.” – NEWSDAY
For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news
. DOUG VARONE, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Award-winning choreographer and director Doug Varone works in dance, theatre, opera, film, and fashion. He is a passionate educator and articulate advocate for dance. His work is known for its emotional range, kinetic breadth and the diversity of genres in which he works. His New York City-based Doug Varone and Dancers has been commissioned and presented to critical acclaim by leading international venues for three decades. In the concert dance world, Varone has created a body of works globally. Commissions include the Limón Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rambert Dance Company (London), Martha Graham Dance Company, Dancemakers (Canada), Batsheva Dance Company (Israel), Bern Ballet (Switzerland) and An Creative (Japan), among others. In addition, his dances have been staged on more than 75 college and university programs around the country. In opera, Doug Varone is in demand as both a director and choreographer. Among his four productions at The Metropolitan Opera are Salome with its Dance of the Seven Veils for Karita Mattila, the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, designed by David Hockney. His Met Opera production of Hector Berloiz’s Les Troyens was broadcast worldwide in HD. He has directed multiple premieres for Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Washington Opera, New York City Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others. His numerous theatre credits include choreography for Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres across the country. His choreography for 2012’s musical Murder Ballad at Manhattan Theatre Club earned him a Lortel Award nomination. Film credits include choreography for the Patrick Swayze film, One Last Dance. In 2008, Varone’s Bottomland, set in the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky, was the subject of PBS’s Dance in America: Wolf Trap’s Face of America. Most recently, he directed and choreographed MasterVoices’ production of Dido and Aeneas at New York City Center, starring Tony Award winners Kelli O’Hara and Victoria Clark, alongside the Company. Varone received his BFA from Purchase College where he was awarded the President’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Numerous honors and awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an OBIE Award (for Lincoln Center’s Orpheus and Eurydice), the Jerome Robbins Fellowship at the Boglaisco Institute in Italy, two individual Bessie Awards, two American Dance Festival Doris Duke Awards for New Work, and four National Dance Project Awards. In 2015, Varone was awarded both a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Dance Guild. Varone teaches workshops and master classes around the world for dancers, musicians and actors. He is currently on the faculty at Purchase College, teaching composition and choreography.
Eric Simonson is an ensemble member of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a position he maintains while working as a writer and director for film, television, theatre and opera. He is currently a writer on The Man in the High Castle. Simonson recently wrote the TV movie Killing Reagan, which premiered on National Geographic on October 16 and was nominated for two Critics Choice Awards.
Other recent films include the documentary, "Studs Terkel: Listening to America" (Emmy nomination); "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin", which won the Oscar for Documentary Short and received a nomination from the International Documentary Association (IDA) for Distinguished Achievement; "On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom" (Oscar nomination, IDA Award, Emmy nomination). All three films subsequently aired on HBO/Cinemax. Other films include "Hamlet" (co-directed with Campbell Scott) for Hallmark Entertainment, and the independent feature, "Topa Topa Bluffs". Simonson has also written and developed multiple television series for HBO, FX, Starz, TNT, and USA networks. Broadway writing credits include the hit play "Lombardi", "Magic/Bird", and "Bronx Bombers", which he also directed. Simonson's other directing and writing credits in theatre include work at Steppenwolf Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages in NY, The Huntington Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Kansas City Rep, The Kennedy Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Arizona Theatre, San Jose Rep and Court Theatre in Chicago. His work at Steppenwolf includes the premiere productions of his plays "Fake", "Honest", "Carter's Way", his adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five", the critically acclaimed and nationally produced "Nomathemba" (co-written with Ntozake Shange and Joseph Shabalala), and "The Song of Jacob Zulu", which was invited to the Perth International Arts Festival, ran on Broadway, and received six Tony nominations including Best Director. Other plays include published works "Bang the Drum Slowly" and "Work Song" (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher), which premiered at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Opera directing credits include the North American premiere of "The Handmaid's Tale" at Minnesota Opera, and world premiere productions of "The Grapes of Wrath", and "Silent Night" (Pulitzer Prize). Simonson has been honored with the Princess Grace Foundation's Statue Award for Sustained Artistic Achievement, the Frankel Award for new play development, and several Edgerton Foundation grants for new play development. ericsimonson.org
Wendall K. Harrington’s career has embraced diverse disciplines including theatre, publishing and multi-image/video design and production. As a designer of scenic projections for the stage, her work has been seen on Broadway in ALL THE WAY, ANNIE, DRIVING MISS DAISY,GREY GARDENS, THE GOOD BODY, DROWNING CROW, THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG, THE ELEPHANT MAN, MY ONE AND ONLY, THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, FOUR BABOONS ADORING THE SUN, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, HAVING OUR SAY, COMPANY, RACING DEMON, STEEL PIER, RAGTIME, FREAK, THE CAPEMAN, AMY’S VIEW, THE CIVIL WAR, PUTTING IT TOGETHER and VINCENT IN BRIXTON. In 1993, Ms. Harrington designed the projections for the award-winning THE WHO’S TOMMY on Broadway, which toured the U.S. in 1994, and has had productions in Toronto, London and Frankfurt, Germany. Additional theatrical projection credits include OLD HATS, ANGELS IN AMERICA, at the Signature theatre AMY’S VIEW at the National in London; THE CIVIL WAR at the Alley and Broadway; PUTTING IT TOGETHER at the Mark Taper Forum and Broadway; GOLDEN CHILD at the Public Theater; HAPGOOD at Lincoln Center; TWELVE DREAMS at the Public Theatre, A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Paramount; MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (four times!) and the ill-fated WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND.
Projection design for opera includes WERTHER at the MET, Julie Taymor’s staging of THE MAGIC FLUTE in Florence, Italy, GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES, RUSALKA, NIXON IN CHINA, DIE TODT STADT, LA FANCIULLA, BRUNDIBAR,A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, GRAPES OF WRATH, THE JUNIPER TREE, MORNING STAR, THE PHOTOGRAPHER,TRANSATLANTIC, and ORPHEO AND EURIDICE as well as sets and projections for Ricky Ian Gordon’s RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY. wendallharrington.comDOUG VARONE AND DANCERS
The recipient of 11 Bessie Awards, Doug Varone and Dancers has toured to more than 125 cities in 45 states across the US and in Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. Stages include The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City Center, San Francisco Performances, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Toronto’s Harbourfront, Moscow’s Stanislavsky Theatre, Buenos Aires’ Teatro San Martin, the Venice Biennale, and the Tokyo, Bates, Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festivals. In opera and theatre, the Company regularly collaborates on the many Varone-directed or choreographed productions that have been produced around the world. Doug Varone and Dancers continues to be among the most sought-after ambassadors and educators in the field. The Company’s multidisciplinary residency programs take audiences deeper into the work, with a hands-on approach that moves beyond the studio to speak directly to people of all ages and backgrounds, both dancers and non-dancers alike. Our annual intensive workshops at leading universities have attracted students and professionals from around the country, and through our innovative DEVICES choreographic mentorship program, we are training the next generation of artists and dance-makers. Whether on the concert stage, in opera or theatre or on the screen, choreographer Doug Varone creates kinetically thrilling dances with rich musicality and emotional depth. From the smallest gesture to full-throttle bursts of movement, Varone’s work can take your breath away with both its athleticism and its passion. dougvaroneanddancers.org