Writer Lara Piu
Photography George Simian and Luke Behaunek

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat happens when a beautiful, thought-provoking, abstract painting comes to life? Artistic director Jacques Heim and the dancers of DIAVOLO will demonstrate in their upcoming performance of L.O.S.T. (Losing One’s Self Temporarily). Mixing dance, acrobatics, athleticism, societal themes and architecture, the Los Angeles-based dance company will perform two of its latest creations, “Passengers” and “Cubicle,” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in March. The diverse team uses ballet, hip hop, taekwondo, everyday movement, and other forms of thought-provoking choreography to dance their way through the often dynamic, sometimes moving, always awe-inspiring on-stage architectural structures.

“What we do on stage is like a live abstract painting,” says Heim. “There is no narrative, but strong themes pervade the work such as human struggle, fear, danger, survival, chaos, order, deconstruction, reconstruction, destiny, destination, faith and love.”

The themes are explored in two acts: “Passengers” and “Cubicle.” Set on an abstract train, the first act is a story of everyday people on a journey that shapes their identities. Dancers make their way through a giant morphing staircase that has doors, passageways, and shifting surfaces, all to explore the balance between being a driver and a passenger in life.

Inspired by George Orwell’s “1984” and set in a system of heavy wooden boxes, act two is aptly named “Cubicle.” Exploring constricting environments, personal identities are scraped clean by cramped and monotonous workday conditions, until the dancers break free to reveal their true selves.

The best way to describe DIAVOLO is “architecture in motion,” explains the artistic director. Although Heim works hand-in-hand with the company’s dancers to create each piece, the choreographer is known for his wow-worthy prop-driven work. He choreographed “KÀ” for Cirque du Soleil, which was performed at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas and staged “The Car,” a stunt-type piece with Center Theater Group in Los Angeles. His choreography has also appeared on BBC America’s “Dancing with the Stars” and Bravo’s “Step It Up and Dance.”

“I’m interested in the relation and interaction between the human body and the architectural environment,” says Heim.”Specifically, how it affects us, not only emotionally but physically.”

Yet DIAVOLO, he says, is hard to describe.

“It is visceral, it is organic,” he explains. “You have to experience it for yourself.”

DIAVOLO: Architecture in Motion
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Virginia G. Piper Theater
7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale
March 16-17
Thursday: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Friday: 8 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $25-$75