Home & + | Search
Featured Categories: Special Focus | Performance Reviews | Previews | DanceSpots | Arts and Education | Press Releases
Join ExploreDance.com's email list | Mission Statement | Copyright notice | The Store | Calendar | User survey | Advertise
Click here to take the ExploreDance.com user survey.
Your anonymous feedback will help us continue to bring you coverage of more dance.
ExploreDance.com (Magazine)
Other Search Options
Michelle Brandon
Press Releases

David Parsons receives Master of Fine Arts from Jacksonville University

by Michelle Brandon
October 8, 2012
This summer, David Parsons was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from Jacksonville University. Mr. Parsons was the first recipient of the Howard Gilman Fellowship to attend the MFA program at the university.

This full tuition fellowship is given to one MFA candidate each year. One of the missions of the Howard Gilman Foundation at White Oak is to nurture the artist in development. The MFA at JU nurtures the development of rigorous and refined relationships between three aspects of creative production: stimulus, practice, and analysis.

Mr. Parsons' MFA degree was completed through a two-year residency program emphasizing choreography and the creative process of generating new works that are grounded in both classical and contemporary dance genres.

Mr. Parsons and his company have a long and remarkable history with White Oak. The Board at White Oak and Jacksonville University share in the joy and honor of welcoming Mr. David Parsons into the Alumni Association.


The MFA at JU nurtures the development of rigorous and refined relationships between three aspects of creative production: stimulus, practice, and analysis.

The MFA degree is a 2 year program emphasizing choreography and the creative process of generating new works that are grounded in both classical and contemporary dance genres. Each year the program starts with a 6-week Summer Intensive, which consists of immersive residencies at White Oak Plantation and a series of guest artists from around the world. This is followed by two non-resident semesters using a combination of distance study with JU faculty and local mentors who work one-on-one with each student to expand their project-based work. Plus an additional one-week mini-residency on campus to work with undergraduate students setting their creative work and developing pedagogical approaches.

This MFA is particularly geared toward artists in transition and expects that applicants should have professional experience in the field prior to application.

The admissions process is highly selective. For low-residency acceptance, applicants must be mature, mid-career working artists. A bachelor's degree (with an undergraduate major in dance) or equivalent dance experience is required. For more information on the MFA at JU, please visit http://mfa.ju.edu


Guided by the vision and passions of Howard Gilman, the mission of the foundation is to preserve and protect those areas Howard considered the most vulnerable and in need of his help. This includes the conservation of endangered animals, the support and nourishment of the arts, as well as the funding of medical research in the fields of HIV/AIDS and cardiology. For more information on White Oak, please visit www.gilmanfoundation.org/whiteOak.


Artistic Director, David Parsons, founded Parsons Dance in 1987 with lighting designer Howell Binkley. Since then, he has created more than 80 works for the company, through commissions from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, the American Dance Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, the Spoleto Festival, and Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam, among others. His works have also been performed by BatSheva Dance Company of Israel, English National Ballet, Feld Ballets/NY, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Nederlands Dans Theatre, and Paris Opera Ballet, among many others. He choreographed and directed the dance elements for Times Square 2000, the 24-hour festivities in Times Square celebrating the turn of the Millennium, viewed live on television by billions of people all over the globe.

Mr. Parsons enjoys a remarkable career as a performer, choreographer, teacher, director, and producer of dance. He has toured and taught with his company on six continents. In September 2007, he directed and choreographed Gotham Chamber Opera's production of María de Buenos Aires, which made its world premiere at a sold-out engagement at NYU's Skirball Center for the Arts in New York City. In the July 27, 2007 issue of The New York Times, Jennifer Dunning called him "one of the great movers of modern dance." In June 2007, Mr. Parsons was the first contemporary choreographer to stage work at the centuries-old Arena di Verona, where he choreographed Verdi's Aida. He received the Dance Masters of America's 2011 Annual Award and the 2000 Dance Magazine Award, as well as the 2001 American Choreography Award for his work with AEROS, a production featuring the Romanian Gymnastic Federation broadcast on the Bravo Channel. From 1978-1987, Mr. Parsons was a leading dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where Mr. Taylor created many roles for him in works such as Arden Court, Last Look, and Roses. He has appeared as a guest artist with the Berlin Opera, MOMIX, the New York City Ballet, and the White Oak Dance Project. As a director and choreographer, he has collaborated with such artists as John Corrigliano; Earth, Wind and Fire; East Village Opera Company; Morton Gould; Donna Karan; Alex Katz; William Ivy Long; Santo Loquasto; Dave Matthews; Milton Nascimento; Robert Rauschenberg; Steely Dan; and Billy Taylor. Film: Fool's Fire, directed by Julie Taymor; American Playhouse; and Rita Blitt's documentary Caught in Paint. Television: Bravo broadcast of Aeros; PBS production of Remember Me, a world premiere production by Parsons Dance and the East Village Opera Company; Parsons Dance repertory production in Denmark; the hit Italian reality television show "Amici;" PBS production of Billy Taylor music with Parsons Dance' and RAI television dance celebration of Pisa, Italy. Commercial work: Audi, Mecedes, Chevrolet, Alfa Romeo, Lion pajamas, and Flair magazine. Fashion: Missoni, Trusardi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Roberto Cavalli.

Born in Chicago and raised in Kansas City, Mr. Parsons received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Kansas City. He is a recipient of the Howard Gilman fellowship at the Jacksonville University MFA program. Mr. Parsons has cultivated an educational partnership with Marymount Manhattan College, which accredits the annual Parsons Dance Summer Intensive. Education outreach, workshops, lecture and demonstration events, and Master Class venues include Juilliard, Columbia Business School and UCLA.


Parsons Dance is an internationally renowned contemporary dance company under the artistic direction of choreographer/director David Parsons. Parsons Dance is committed to creating and performing American dance works of extraordinary artistry that are engaging and uplifting to audiences throughout the world. Parsons Dance tours nationally and internationally, including an annual season in its home community of New York City. The Company includes nine full-time dancers. David Parsons has choreographed a repertory of more than 80 works for Parsons Dance. Since 1985, Parsons Dance has toured an average of 32 weeks per year to a total of more than 250 cities, 35 countries, and five continents. Many more have seen Parsons Dance on PBS, Bravo, A&E Network, and the Discovery Channel. In addition to choreography and performance, Parsons Dance is committed to audience development and arts education for participants of all ages and all levels of artistic experience. Parsons Dance regularly offers outreach opportunities, including post-show discussions, master classes, open rehearsals, and studio showcases. In partnership with Marymount Manhattan College and Broadway Dance Center, Parsons Dance offers year-round training opportunities in New York for professional and pre-professional dancers from throughout the world.

Parsons Dance gratefully acknowledges the following for their support: The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Friars Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Joyce Theater, New York State Council on the Arts, Nina W. Werblow Charitable Trust, The Shubert Foundation and Theater Development Fund. In addition, Parsons Dance is supported, in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Search for articles by
Performance Reviews, Places to Dance, Fashion, Photography, Auditions, Politics, Health