PORTLAND — Doug Varone and Dancers, one of the foremost modern dance companies of today, will take the stage at Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Dancers in the troupe, formed in 1986, are known for their dexterity, musicality, expansive vision and technical prowess. From the smallest gesture to full-throttle bursts of movement, Varone’s work mines the complexity of the human spirit.

The program, presented by Portland Ovations, will open with one of Varone’s most exuberant works, “Lux.”  This piece, set to the music of Philip Glass, has been lauded by critics for its optimism and exultation.

The second half of the program is the Maine premiere of “Chapters from a Broken Novel,” a new work co-commissioned by Portland Ovations and the Bates Dance Festival. “Chapters” is based on a collection of phrases, snippets, quotes and vivid images that Varone has compiled or observed over the years, set to the music of composer and musician David van Tieghem.

At home in New York City, Doug Varone and Dancers is the resident company at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center. On tour, the company has performed in more than 100 cities in 45 states across the United States and in Europe, Asia, Canada and South America. In opera and theater, the company regularly collaborates on the many Varone-directed or choreographed productions that have been produced around the country during the last decade.

Besides his work with his dance company, Varone is known for choreographing productions at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and fashion designer Geoffrey Beene’s runway shows. He has also worked on television and film projects, including the movie “One Last Dance,” starring the late Patrick Swayze.

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will be a free lecture, “Creating Modern Dance in Maine,” by dance educator and choreographer Nancy Salmon from 6  to 7 p.m. Salmon will explore Varone’s work and creative process as well as discusses an overview of the history of modern and post modern dance in Maine. Immediately after the performance, dance company members will be available on-stage for a question-and-answer session.

To buy tickets, ranging from $30 to $38, call 842-0800, visit the box office window at Merrill Auditorium or log on to www.portlandovations.org.

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