Metro Weekly

Diavolo showcases its daring dance moves at the Kennedy Center

Acrobatic dance troupe's spectacular feats of movement emphasize group numbers and dynamics

Diavolo Passengers (from L.O.S.T.) — Photo: George Simian

“We kind of went in thinking that we would just be filler, really,” Connor Senning says, about appearing last year on America’s Got Talent. Far from filler, the acrobatic dance troupe Diavolo ended up making it to the finals. “It was this surreal experience, and we were just in shock from the very beginning to the very end. Since then, it’s opened up a lot of doors for us.”

Next weekend, the daring, Los Angeles-based company will make its debut at the Kennedy Center. Founded and led by Jacques Heim, Diavolo blends modern dance with the circus arts, and though there are similarities to companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Pilobolus, Diavolo’s spectacular feats of movement put more emphasis on group numbers and dynamics. Senning, now in his fourth season as a dancer and first as associate rehearsal director, calls it “teamwork and trust-building” in a “high intensity” format. “It’s a group of people putting their lives in each other’s hands on stage,” he says. “With beautiful set pieces and the artistry that goes along with it.”

The company will be presenting two signature works — Trajectoire, featuring a “giant, 3,000-pound rocking boat that’s driven by the dancers,” and Passengers, featuring a “giant staircase that turns into a ramp.” Also on the program, The Veterans Project: The Long Journey Home, which includes several U.S. military vets and, says Senning, is designed to create “work with veterans to help them restore themselves — physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

One of two gay dancers in the current lineup, Senning says Diavolo is “a very open and loving company. We’re all family. We spend a lot of time together. We’re all very emotionally and spiritually connected as well, which is a very special thing about this group.”

Diavolo performs Friday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 and 8 p.m., in the Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $29 to $79. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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