Review: Parsons Dance ‘Celebrates the Joy of Movement’
By Bethany Hopta, Contributing Writer, May 26, 2017
Parsons Dance began a two-week residency at the Joyce Theater last week, which concludes this weekend. Much of the advance publicity was centered around a premiere (Hello World) which was to feature flying drones as part of the performance. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the premiere has been postponed until next season.
The evening began with Swing Shift, choreographed by David Parsons, it features the company’s eight dancers and was a powerful start to the evening. The dancers wore shades of burgundy, beige, and rose in a velvety, velour fabric fashioned into tunics and pants with extra material that resembled a tail, increasing the grace of each movement. Solo work by Zoey Anderson began the piece, with the ensemble joining in thereafter. The piece is high energy and fun to watch.
Hand Dance, a piece for five dancers, is a creative showcase for both the choreography of David Parsons and the lighting design of Howell Binkley (lighting designer for most of the evening’s works). The dancers’ arms and hands are lit and they move them in patterns, but the coordination of the movement and the accompanying music (arranged by Kenji Bunch) gives the piece an extra punch. It’s light, fun, and celebrates the joy of movement.
A more serious mood prevails with Daniel, a new piece choreographed by company member Omar Roman De Jesus. Commissioned by Parsons Dance as a part of its GenerationNow Fellowship for emerging choreographers, it was inspired by De Jesus’s experience with dancers on the Autistic spectrum. Sign language in the form of finger spelling was a featured element and Autistic-type movement was modeled by two of the dancers, Omar Roman De Jesus (partnered with Ian Spring to conclude the piece) and Eoghan Dillon. The choreography lends a poignancy to the performance and celebrates the different social interaction and movement patterns within the Autistic population. The lighting by Christopher S. Chambers is distinctive and focused the audience’s attention on the action, at times obscuring parts of the stage so that the dancers who weren’t moving were invisible. The costumes, designed by Mark Gieringer are contemporary and figure flattering: flesh colored tops and fitted black pants. The modern score with a variety of music styles encompasses a wide range of musical expression. This piece is recommended viewing for everyone because it increases our awareness of our own humanity.
Elena D’Amario and Ian Spring move as one entity in Finding Center (Excerpt): The Duet. Conceived and choreographed by David Parsons, this piece exemplifies athleticism and grace and the art of combining two people to make motion. Complemented by Howell Binkley’s lighting design and music by Thomas Newman, the piece left the audience wishing it was longer.
Caught is a masterpiece of timing and thrilling to watch. With choreography and lighting concept by David Parsons, it showcased the solo artistry of Ian Spring. The otherworldliness of the piece is captured in the lighting design (Howell Binkley) and the electronic score (Kenji Bunch). The piece’s athleticism and power is enhanced by the costume design of Mia McSwain; the white fitted pants emphasized physique and were beautifully illuminated by the strobe lighting effect.
The concluding new piece, Upend, choreographed by David Parsons and Ephrat Asherie, seems like a groovy dance party that the audience has been allowed to watch. The eight dancers, clad in multicolored tops, black pants, and grey sneakers with white stripes (costumes by Naomi Luppescu), bring an energy to the stage that makes it easy to forget that this is the final dance. The ensemble and couple choreography feels fresh; the movements are sleek and the overall feeling is one of happiness.
Parsons Dance continues its run at the Joyce through Sunday, May 28, 2017. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience some new choreography, as well as some company favorites.
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Parsons Dance at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, from May 16 – May 28, 2017.
Swing Shift, choreography by David Parsons; lighting design by Howell Binkley; music by Kenji Bunch; costumes by Mia McSwain. Dancers: Ian Spring, Elena D’Amario, Geena Pacareu, Omar Roman De Jesus, Eoghan Dillon, Zoey Anderson, Justus Whitfield, Deidre Rogan
Hand Dance, choreography by David Parsons; lighting design by Howell Binkley; music arrangement by Kenji Bunch. Dancers: five unidentified dancers.
Daniel, choreography by Omar Roman De Jesus; lighting design by Christopher S. Chambers; music: various; costumes by Mark Gieringer; dancers: Ian Spring, Elena D’Amario, Geena Pacareu, Omar Roman De Jesus, Eoghan Dillon, Zoey Anderson, Justus Whitfield, Deidre Rogan
Finding Center (Excerpt): The Duet, concept and choreography by David Parsons, lighting design by Howell Binkley; music by Thomas Newman; costumes by Naomi Luppescu. Dancers: Ian Spring, Elena D’Amario
Caught, choreography by David Parsons; lighting concept by David Parsons; lighting design by Howell Binkley; music by Robert Fripp, costume design by Judy Wirkula. Dancer: Ian Spring
Upend, choreography by Ephrat Asherie and David Parsons; lighting design by Howell Binkley; music by Marty Beller; costumes by Naomi Luppescu. Dancers: Ian Spring, Elena D’Amario, Geena Pacareu, Omar Roman De Jesus, Eoghan Dillon, Zoey Anderson, Justus Whitfield, Deidre Rogan
Cover: Ian Spring in a time-lapsed photo from ‘Caught;’ photo: Bill Herbert.