an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

PARSONS DANCERS TAKE IT OFF (AND PUT IT BACK ON): NYC DANCE

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on December 4, 2006.

Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) — David Parsons’s 10 dancers, each a bundle of energy and verve, are getting undressed, down to their skivvies. And dressed. And undressed again. All at top speed, turning their reversible baggy tops and bottoms inside out in the process and simultaneously tearing through space.

This is the theme of the popular choreographer’s new “Peel,” which will have its New York premiere tomorrow at the Joyce Theater.

After a decade as an unforgettable performer with Paul Taylor, Parsons began creating his own enormously successful repertory of easy-watching dances. His company, now almost 20 years old, aims at entertaining the general public rather than appealing to the dance connoisseur.

Nothing too complicated or enigmatic happens in a typical Parsons dance. The choreography goes in for simple fun, delivering infusions of it’s-great-to-be-alive vigor.

Accordingly, Parsons’s dancers rarely look arty. They’re robust bodies doing robust dancing. Their bravura feats, which require power, daring and precise judgment — are brought off with an air of unfettered athletic exuberance. Watching them, a civilian might feel he could do that stuff too, if only he went to the gym more often.

Gotta Get a Gimmick

“Peel” is based on a gimmick: the presto, change-o! wardrobe maneuvers on which many a change is hung. It also quotes from Parsons’s signature work, “Caught,” in which a jumping dancer on a pitch-black stage is captured in flashes of strobe light so that she seems suspended in space and time.

But then, in the adagio section of Michael Gordon’s score, Parsons reveals more poetic leanings. Abby Silva, an ethereal blonde with great personal charm, plays goddess to a quintet of strongmen who toss and catch her, supporting her exalted flights and swooning falls. Midway through the segment, she tires of the dependent-female role and tries to escape, but, like most worshippers, these guys refuse to let their idol go.

Parsons Dance performs at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, from Dec. 5-17. Information: +1-212-242- 0800 or http://www.joyce.org.

© 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

an ArtsJournal blog