Parsons Dance Company 2018
Solid, entertaining modern dance performed by strong, musical and witty dancers.
“Wolfgang” (2005), choreographed to Mozart, is a zingy work that somehow manages to splice modern dance’s vitality to the formality of 18th century music. Dressed in David Murin’s period evocative costumes, the six dancers romped prettily to a score which included the adagio from the “Elvira Madigan” piano concerto. Parsons managed to bring to mind flirtations amongst the dancers who do-si-do’d in complex patterns, changing partners, but always winding up with their “true” loves.
The steps were playful, the partnering refreshingly simple and the performances low-keyed, but expressive. Howell Binkley’s lighting made the empty stage space seem complex.
Co-choreographed by Parson and Abby Silva Gavezzoli (who was the sole performer) to Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” “Reflections” (2018) was a meditative response to the elegant piano score. Dressed in a loose, multi-colored long jacket, Ms. Gavezzoli moved slowly as she walked using hypnotically soft hip swaying, even easing herself to the floor in poses reminiscent of Nijinsky’s “Faune,” also colorful and also to music by Debussy. After the lighthearted Mozart work, “Reflections” provided a time for a quiet interlude.
The new work, “Microburst,” was a quartet performed to classical Indian music composed and played live by Avirodh Sharma. Brilliant and audacious, “Microburst” took the four dancers, all wearing black, fringed outfits—by Barbara Erin Delo— through complex rhythmic patterns that magically fit together as if the four were having a hyperkinetic conversation with their feet. The agility of the four dancers—Geena Pacareu, Eoghan Dillon, Zoey Anderson and Justus Whitfield—was breathtaking and entertaining.
Parsons’ best known dance has become “Caught” from 1982, a solo performed to Robert Fripp’s buzzing electronic score, which takes its title from strobe lights (by Parsons and Hinkley) which freeze movements making it seem as if the dancer, in this case the incredibly strong Zoey Anderson wearing Judy Wirkuld’s chic workout wear were suspended in air. One of the best interpreters of “Caught,” Anderson adds a passion and femininity to a workout. Anderson was particularly adept in appearing to float about the width and depth of the Joyce stage.
“Whirlaway,” to a funky folk rock score by Allen Toussaint, was Parsons’ attempt to be jaunty. Helped by Keiko Voltaire’s eccentric, loose and colorful costumes, “Whirlaway” was full of visual jokes and camaraderie, both of which the Parsons’ crew is adept at communicating.
“Ma Maison,” by guest choreographer Trey McIntyre and set to music by Preservation Hall Jazz was as close to a spectacular as Parsons Dance can get. Dressed in Jeanne Button’s New Orleans funeral procession-inspired costumes, including full skull masks, colorful shoes and gloves, “Ma Maison” was just as stylized as Paul Taylor’s “Three Epitaphs” which also used very old jazz music and also dealt with mock funeral parades. The eight dancers communicated a jolly sense of celebration and a drunken giddiness that suited McIntyre’s over-the-top style.
Parsons Dance 2018 (through May 27, 2018)
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-242-0800 or visit http://www.Joyce.org
Running time: one hour and 50 minutes including one intermission
I saw this program Wednesday evening, May 23rd. I thought it was stunning. David Parsons’s dancers were always engaging and surprising. His choreography incorporates a lot of improvisation and discovery during the creation of each dance. A lot of quirky and unusual movements of fingers, heads, knees, feet, were worked seamlessly into traditional dance movements. It was funny, but strong and coherent. The dancers were all excellent. The remarkable Zoey Anderson excelled “Caught,” a virtuosic work involving strobe lights. Surprisingly, “Ma Madison,” which I had been looking forward to, didn’t have as much imaginative variety as the other dances did, I thought, although visually it was exciting and well danced, with the skull masks turning to surprising angles. The lighting was very good, and strikingly effective in “Amadeus,” the Mozart piece; it was brilliant and warm, highlighting the muscular definition of the dancers.