‘Chapters from a Broken Novel’ pulls pieces together
Choreographer Doug Varone’s “Chapters from a Broken Novel’’ (2010) — with its shards of dreams and groping tenderness — cracks the human condition wide open. A full-evening work comprising 20 dance vignettes, the piece, a Boston premiere, sprang from Varone’s own “collected works’’: images and quotes from books, films, and overheard conversations that he scribbled in a notebook and let gestate, then brought to the stage to bloom.
Varone’s is a visceral, nonstop choreography — full-bodied squiggles, darts, and jitters where splayed fingers snap and hip joints strain as knees yank apart. David Van Tieghem’s now-clanking, now-swirling score both drives and complements the seven dancers as they travel from the frantic “Spilling the Contents’’ to the closing, almost lyrical “The Final Proverb.’’ A riot of sensations tumbles in between.
“The Ghosts of Insects’’ is a dance of impulses — quiet before the storm. The duet “Glass’’ has Netta Yerushalmy slam onto the back of a prone Ryan Corriston before the two curl and spoon — but even that move is fractured. In this relationship, every interaction is diamond-hard. “Repeated Routines’’ thickens the stage space with accumulating bodies, yet each remains isolated. Characters dance to, not with, each other.
Alex Springer in “Target Practice’’ skims deftly out of the line of fire: a roving circle of light that tracks him. The at turns elegiac and apocalyptic “Others in the Room’’ has four dancers jerking like mechanical dolls, their limbs shooting into angles.
“Tile Riot,’’ danced by Erin Owen, is welcome comic relief. She’s a girl in the mirror — applying lipstick, putting on earrings, belting a song into a microphone, all with exaggerated flair. When her peace-sign fingers hit the floor and do a little dance of their own, you can’t help but laugh out loud.
“Men’’ spoofs the etiquette of ballroom dance, as three men switch partners as easily as, well, socks. Julia Burrer and Natalie Desch in “Égalité’’ release a river of movement to a repetitive score. When the two finally touch it’s as if the earth has moved: chatter has resolved, finally, in intimacy.
Thea Singer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org