Dallas — Explosive, flashy, impressive. These three words describe Parsons Dance Company’s performance this past weekend for their one-night-only return to the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House, closing the 2017-2018 TITAS Presents season. In classic David Parsons style, dancers left audience members spellbound by their massive leaps, endless extensions, and relentless turns. Mixing old and new repertoire, Parsons Dance performed with all the vigor and presence of a world-renowned professional dance company.
Beginning with a lively work from David Parsons himself, Wolfgang placed dancers in the midst of a perky Mozart score. Originally commissioned for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the balletic undertones were evident in the musicality of the movement, costuming of the dancers, and technical accuracy of the choreography. Three men in brownish maroon outfits and three women in tight corset bodices with short bouncy skirts hurriedly pranced, leaped, and sliced through the space. This fast paced piece relied on keeping the dancers in constant motion—a well organized set of quick movements produced with frenzied energy.
For Reflections, Parsons partnered with dancer/rehearsal director Abby Silva Gavezzoli to create a relatively short, yet compelling solo. With Gavezzoli as both co-choreographer and performer, it was clear that the stop and go movement was meant for her body. Starting in the pool of a single spotlight, her pointed arm jabs and controlled balances eventually increased to wilder swivels led by the wrist and covered more space through her jumps and runs. Striking and compact, this solo managed to maintain the busyness and zeal of the first work with only one explosive performer.
Continuing with the relentless energy of the previous pieces, Whirlaway immediately established a sassy, playful tone through the bursts of leaps and whimsical partnering. Filled with spirited turns, swings, and gallops, the nonstop movement served as constant visual stimulation. Another “feel-good” piece, Whirlaway both entertained and wowed viewers with hefty tricks and eye-catching holds.
Of course, a Parsons Dance performance would be incomplete without Caught. Perhaps the company’s best known work, it has graced the Winspear stage more than once. Even those familiar with the piece gasped as Zoe Anderson hovered in the air as each flash of light captured her in surprising positions. Despite the wave of applause, I found myself reading ahead to the next piece. After all, once you’ve seen the “surprise” of the strobe lights, it becomes repetitive to the viewer for the second, tenth, or hundredth time.
Closing with Ma Maison, the familiar faces of Parsons Dance transformed into quirky skeletons clothed in shiny gold, green, black, and purple—Mardi Gras ready. Originally commissioned by the New Orleans Ballet Association, Trey McIntyre’s unorthodox creation was restaged for Parsons Dance. Eccentric and amusing, Ma Maison celebrates the fun-loving, party-ready New Orleans culture and features music from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Mischievous skeletons cross the stage with comical shuffles, hip swings, and contracted, creepy walks. A vibratory quality emerged within the work as dancers shook their arms and wobbled their knees to match the jazzy accompaniment. Thoughtfully placed flexed feet and wrists enhanced the stiffness of the skeleton dancers while also offering subtle, clever gestural details. The relentless energy of the dancers fueled the lengthy piece. Even the dirge section contained forceful marches and powerful leaps.
Always professional, always dynamic, Parsons Dance presented another awe-inspiring evening to Dallas audiences. It is impossible to deny the raw athleticism and capabilities of the dancers. Reliably entertaining, the company demonstrated remarkable technique in classic, lighthearted and good-natured David Parsons fashion.