March 17, 2023
The Parsons Dance Company's two week season at the Joyce Theater opened to a full, buzzing house.
My guest had never seen Parsons Dance before and she was amazed by the company's "extraordinary facility and precision."That's because a Parsons Dance performance generally produces excellently equipped dancers in congenial choreography.
A former member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, David Parsons embraces his mentor's love of dance physicality. Taylor's male dancers are known to spring into cartwheels, handstands, head tumbles and flips. And so too, Parsons does not shy away from demonstrating the dancers' athleticism, in fact, the distinction between athlete and artist is compressed in Parsons' Company.
A tightly produced show, opening night included two solos sandwiched between three group dances.
Excelling in hallmark solos--perhaps because Parsons models them on his own body and gifts. Parsons' all- time favorite Caught --was executed with a flair and muscular sensationalism by Zoey Anderson. Caught's sibling the gymnastic solo Balance of Powercreated in 2020 offers incredible muscle rippling, chest popping isolations. Croix Dilenno had the audience screaming and laughing in delight at a solo that could easily be set on Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA.
The three ensemble works were engaging. Parsons' response to the great Bill Withers soundtrack produced a community-bound group reflecting on the lyrics. Between songs, Wither's patter contextualizes each song, whether it's "I Can't Write Left-Handed" about the VietNam war vet or "Grandma's Hands" about his beloved grandmother.
Parsons personalizes each track, asking the dancers to effect the emotional center of the song eliciting the dance equivalent of comfortable conversions-- except for "Grandma's Hands" that simply visualized hands spread over bodies.
Rena Butler's 2023 The Ride Through involved the company in a tribal pursuit. Lines of dancers rush from one side to the next, breaking into swirling lifts and pouncing, simian-like through a guarded space.
More successful was Parsons' 2023 Swing Shift. Playful and brimming with inventive partnering where women are turned head-over-heels 360 degrees like the hands of a clock. At times, there's the Taylor style run and dip splicing up the modern dance carriage buttressed next to sporty moves. But mostly, it's a clever and musical response to Kenji Bunch's bouncy score.
Parsons Dance Company enjoys full houses and a healthy touring schedule because it's all about dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis