By Sue Moore
Diavolo – Architecture in Motion, a national dance company, is performing at Miller Auditorium on Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Parents and friends of Vicksburg’s Matt Wagner will be in the audience to witness his exploits as a member of this highly athletic and unusual dance company.
Miller Auditorium bills the dance troop this way: “Fresh from its recent success as a top 10 finalist on NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’, Diavolo explores the relationship between the human body and its architectural environment, pushing the limits of performance by incorporating architectural structures, gymnastics and acrobatics into its work. Led by Artistic Director Jacques Heim, this audacious and innovative company goes where no other company dares!”
Wagner, 30, one of 12 performers in the group, grew up in a home on Barton Lake. He started dance lessons at the age of five, attended Howardsville Christian High School and Vicksburg United Methodist Church and took gymnastics in college at Oakland University. He auditioned in Dallas and was first selected for the second company’s apprentice program. He has moved up to being on the touring company for three seasons with a home base in Los Angeles.
“There is lots of gymnastics and intensity in their dance moves,” Wagner said. “We don’t use safety nets or harnesses. The audience can just feel it along with the epic music that has been composed and commissioned for our performances. Our founder and director is a mad genius. He directs the presentation like a movie; frame by frame.”
“There are six women and six men performing, climbing all around a tower type of apparatus,” he said. “It’s a very mixed group of shapes and sizes with lots of athleticism and acrobatic skills involved. To qualify I had to pass rigorous strength tests; 30 slow pushups with three counts up and down, 10 pullups and handstands, and that was just for starters. We consume a lot of food before the show. There is never too much food for me. I’m also in charge of our education outreach while on the road so this life is never boring.”