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No strings attached

Wren Wertin
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Flying and falling, flying and falling. There are easier jobs to have.

But members of performing arts company Diavolo aren’t particularly interested in what’s easy, as their body of work proves. The inventive and qualified performers take the Vilar Center stage today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The group arrived in Eagle County Wednesday evening to get accilmated and build the set upon which their dances – and lives – depend. The makings of a rocking ship, a wall studded with metal bars and a sleekly sensual female form were carted in under the ice rink at Beaver Creek and into the theater.



“The work is abstract, but it’s not esoteric,” explained Company Manager and Technical Director Jeremy Jacobs, drill in hand.

“It’s a one-pointed metaphor,” added Jones Welsh, a performer.



Diavolo explores the relationship humans have with their environment, be it things or other people. The dances manage to be many things – cerebral, exciting, intensely physical, even shocking. And audiences of all ages are repsonding to them.

“Kids have great imaginations,” said Jacobs. “They make up their own story about what we’re doing. We’re not trying to beat a theme into anybody.”

Founded more than a decade ago in Los Angeles, the dance company is still gaining popularity.



“We’ve been called the NFL of dance, or even superheroes,” exclaimed Welsh. “It’s because we fly, we literally fly across the stage – and not on wires.”

The dancers undergo epic journeys during a show, and they take the audience with them.

“All of my training goes into what I’m doing now,” said Welsh.

His background in athleticism, theater and improvisational dance are all tools for his work in Diavolo.

Jacobs used to be a performer with the company. The physically grueling work limits the longevity of dancers’ careers in much the same way any professional sports does. But because he enjoys the company so much he elected to stay on. He’s got an insider’s knowledge of what the sets have to do for the dancers.

“I love the ensemble,” said Jacobs. “There’re no divas, we work together as a team, and there’s such a high level of trust. There has to be.”

The work itself is sustaining, both physically and mentally. Stasis is a dirty word. Pieces are constantly evolving, be it through performer changes or choreography adaptations. In this way, nothing is ever finished and put away – the repertoire remains alive.

As important and visually stimulating to the performance is the set. Banish all thoughts of bare stages or painted backdrops – the dialogue begins with function and form.

“The pieces themselves are sculptural works of art,” explained Jacobs, who used to be a performer. “Both the wall (for “D2R’) and the ship (for “Trajectoire’) were created by Daniel Wheeler.”

Because Diavolo travels, part of the set design process is to create props that can be assembled and disassembled with a minimum of time. The elements have to be light enough to be portable, but strong enough to bear the weight – and sustain the lives – of the acrobatic performers.

And they have to be compelling – just as the dances are compelling.

For more information on the company visit http://www.diavolo.org.


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