PORTLAND – Picture a metallic cube, packed with hidden spaces.

Imagine dancers, acrobats, gymnasts and actors turning that cube into a pyramid, then three pyramids, then a wall, three walls, a bridge and a labyrinth.

All the while these dancers, acrobats, gymnasts and actors leap from peak to peak, rolling down the sides and twirling and flying across this surreal landscape, exploring the human condition through movement.

Led by choreographer Jacques Heim, who created Cirque de Soleil’s “Ka,” the modern dance company Diavolo will present “Trajectoire,” at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at Merrill Auditorium, courtesy of PCA Great Performances.

Set on an abstract 21st century galleon, the performers are set adrift upon the ever-shifting landscape of human relations in modern society. A visceral and emotional journey, “Trajectoire” examines tremendous loss and abandonment. At journey’s end, the piece shows the transcendence of the human soul against all odds.

Diavolo redefines dance through dynamic movement, creative expression, the inventive use of sets and props, and the music of Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The company was founded in 1992 in Los Angeles by Heim to create large-scale interdisciplinary performances that examine the funny and frightening ways individuals act in their environment.

The sets created are outrageous and surrealistic and form an intrinsic part of each piece of work. Everyday items such as doors, chairs and stairways provide the backdrop for dramatic movement – leaping, flying, twirling – that creates metaphors for the challenge of relationships, the absurdities of life and the struggle to maintain our humanity in an increasingly technological world.

The 10-member company currently has more than a dozen works in repertoire, most of which travel easily and can be adapted to large- and small-scale venues.

After seeing Diavolo’s first Los Angeles performance, Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal wrote of Heim that the performance “establishes him as a creative force in the community, someone with both a compelling vision and the ability to inspire others to uncompromising performances.”

Tickets to the performance at Merrill are $42 $34 $30; $20 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at PCAGreatPerformances.org; by calling 842-0800; or in person at the Merrill Auditorium box office, 20 Myrtle St., noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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