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Parsons Dance: Abundant Harvest
Joyce Theater
175 8th Avenue
New York, New York
Jan 8-20, 2008

Reviewed by William S. Gooch


David Parsons has always been credited with creating works that fuse many dance styles—a skill he undoubting acquired as lead dancer with The Paul Taylor Company. However, in the six pieces presented by his company on January 8, 2008 at the Joyce Theater, Parsons shows that he has taken what he learned from Paul Taylor—the sculpted, curved, free upper body movements and jubilant leaps and jumps—and created something that is uniquely his own.

The first dance work of the evening, Closure, is a pulsating piece that uses most of the dancers in the company. Parsons punctuates the driving, percussive score of Milton Powell with blindingly fast, inverted chaines pirouettes and catapult-like circular sautés jumps. Dancers energetically assemble, dissipate and regroup into daisy-chain formations while spinning and twisting to ominous, hypnotic rhythms. This work is appealing in its ability to hypnotically pull the audience into Parsons’ raw, pounding primordial movements.

In Sleep Study, dancers in a somnambulistic state toss and turn, romp, and roll while performing difficult acrobatic moves. In this ensemble dance, Parsons has expertly choreographed group movement that is funny, pyrotechnical and wildly innovative. Kudos should also go to his dancers who effectively suggest agitated, acrobatic somnambulism.

Caught was perhaps the piece de resistance of the evening. A solo piece, this work is a showcase for a dancer who possesses the ability to transport audiences into the phantasmagorical. Using a strobe lighting effect, Parson’s choreography makes Miguel Quinones appear suspended in time, like a photographic still. At times it seems as though Quinones is walking on water, at other times, like quicksilver, he leaps from stage right to stage left, seemingly never touching the stage. The diminutive Quinones owns this piece as though it is his organic response to the music of Robert Fripp. Reveling in his love of dance, Quinones invites us into his world of fantasy and jubilation.

As Caught was an example of Parsons’ ability to choreograph solo works that bring out the unique skills on an individual artist, In the End demonstrates his talent for making pieces that are evocative of a particular era. To the musical stylings of the Dave Matthews Band, In the End conjures up images of the youthful abandon and restlessness of ‘Generation Jones.’ Sky-high extensions and ebullient leaps signify the expectations and sexual liberation of a post-Vietnam generation freed from the conflicts of a war society. Parsons takes us on a journey that completes course with reflections on the joys and follies of youth.

A cultivator of dance pieces that spans his company’s twenty year history, David Parsons is now reaping the fruits of his labor. A labor fully worth the effort; an abundant harvest indeed.

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