In most respects there is a clear line of development in David Parsons choreography. He’s a former Paul Taylor dancer and much of his work is similar. There’s the loose, rangy movement, a kind of all-American way of flying around with ease. Think of the way Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced and just add some modern dance gestures. The company of eight gave all its energy, all the time and there’s not one you wouldn’t want in your dance company if you had one.

Ian Spring and Elena d'Amario © Lois Greenfield 2015
Ian Spring and Elena d'Amario
© Lois Greenfield 2015
Finding Center played out against a backdrop of projections by artist Rita Blitt. It is precisely this sort of Parsons’ choreography that reminds one so much of Taylor. The dancers all look to each other and share the joy of performing. It’s highly musical and there’s a lot of camaraderie that shows how much they enjoy dancing together. Of special note here was the pas de deux with Ian Spring and Elena D’Amario. She only touched ground a couple of times in a series of constantly evolving lifts that were poetic as well as extremely difficult. It was inspiring to watch. Union was Parsons' elegy for AIDS victims. Set to evocative music by John Corigliano, it had the whole company dancing as one. They moved in between, through, over and under one another communicating the great loss that anyone who was around during the peak of the AIDS epidemic was feeling. Robert Battle’s Train closed the first half of the program with a bang. The music was percussion by Les Tambours du Bronx. This was the dance where it became apparent that the power balance in the company had shifted toward the women. They were feminine but fierce. They strutted across the stage with assertive passion and made this piece theirs. It’s not that the men were weak by any means. Ahmad Simmons upheld well for the men’s side but these women are something special and they exuded the confidence of knowing it. Elena D’Amario’s extended solo was blistering and even thrilling at times. She’s a dancer who can build up, contain and finally explosively release a lot of energy.

The second half of the program opened with the world première of Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s Almah. Accompanied by live music by Ljova, it began with a dissonant polka. There was a lot of partnering. The duet with Geena Pacareu and Ian Spring was lovely. Parsons’ masterpiece, Caught, from 1982, brought back a lot of memories. I confess the last time I saw it was when the great Gary Chryst danced it around thirty years ago. I wondered if it would still pack the emotional wallop that it did when I first saw it. Ian Spring, trapped in columns of light, immediately conjured the claustrophobic anxiety of fighting with gravity. When he finally defeated it and took flight with the strobe effect he took us soaring with him. Use of the strobe, which the dancer controls, allows him to show us a succession of pictures of himself floating above the stage.

Sarah Braverman, Elena d'Amario, Eoghan Dillon, Omar Roman de Jesus and Geena Pacare © Lois Greenfield 2015
Sarah Braverman, Elena d'Amario, Eoghan Dillon, Omar Roman de Jesus and Geena Pacare
© Lois Greenfield 2015
I heard the gasps of wonder from people who had not seen it before. The visual imagery stays long after the dance is over and Spring was terrific. Nascimento, which closed the show, could not help but be a disappointment after seeing Caught. I have a very low limit on how much Brazilian jazz I can take and this exceeded it. I appreciated all the goodwill and cheerfulness being expressed but I wanted more depth. The order of the program needs to be re-thought. I can understand wanting to finish the show with the whole company in a high energy piece but you should close with your most powerful work.

Parsons Dance is a fine company with great dancers. Not a one of them disappointed. Their wonderful upbeat energy makes up for choreographic material that is occasionally a little thin but there are some real gems in the repertoire. Elena D’Amario in particular stood out as a performer with real passion. She will be dancing some performances of Caught and I’m sure it will be well worth seeing.

***11