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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
The Tarkington
United States
Carmel, IN

Parsons Dance Company splendid in Mixed Rep Program

by Rita Kohn
June 22, 2012
The Tarkington
The Center for the Performing Arts
355 City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Yes the accolades are apt: amazing, energized, exciting. And yes, David Parsons' dancers are strong, focused and exhilarating. The same has been said of other top-flight dance companies, so what sets Parsons Dance apart and persuades audiences to fill the seats? Maybe it's their accessibility. What some critics deride as "simplicity" might really be okay, because a simple idea opens opportunities for a viewer to expand upon, based on their personal experience.

The company began its mixed repertory program for their two-evening engagement at The Tarkington with "Round My World," which premiered in New York City in January 2012. Perfectly entwined with Zoe Keating's curvilinear digitized cello score, six dancers as couples, solos and corps showcased a zillion variations of roundness. Sometimes they were as a slinky walking down a staircase, or as hands wrapping skeins of wool into balls, or as the turnings of Jupiter's 66 moons — you get the point. Parsons choreography for the 20-minute piece engaged in an array of amazingly intricate variations of the human body in phases of closed curves in motion, dual limbs encircling and looping in and out of themselves and each other, groupings reshaping as massed interior regions exploding into stage filling exterior discs and ellipses unfolding, enfolding. It was a mesmerizing "how do they do that?" moment. Ditto for the iconic "Caught" which launched Parsons Dance in 1987 in partnership with lighting designer Howell Binkley. The Apollo-looking Eric Bourne brought personal charisma to the "trade secret" leaps in strobe light.

"Hand Dance" (2003) was simplicity made whimsical as five pairs of "disembodied" fingers, palms and fists spatially drew personalities and images from Kenji Bunch's "hoedown" score. Equally, Parsons choreography captured Bunch's edgy New York dusk to dawn mood-ranging in "Swing Shift" (2003) where four couples clad in shimmery velveteen re-enacted the cheek-to-jowl moves of a mid-20th century sock hop – or was it show off combative hoop shooting, a tribal gathering or maybe gods and goddesses stepping off a vase and frolicking?

"Kind of Blue" (2001) featured a quartet of dancers trying on Miles Davis' sultry jazz in body gyrations growing out of teenage hormones. Davis' subtle complexities evolved as dancers explored their space and defined their persona.

"Nascimento" (1990) as a paean to Milton Nascimento's music, elevated Samba rhythms with non-stop brightness, brashness, bravado. The company swirled, reached, skipped and tossed in a range of motion that was energetic and still. The Company of nine dancers was splendid.
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