With Manhattan now plunged into tundra-nipping temps, no one could be blamed for falling into the contagious warmth that emanates from the Joyce Theater in Chelsea. Now through the 22nd, Parsons Dance is weaving its spell of virtuosic imagination that since 1985 has only deepened in its ingenuity and delights.
Would that every company instilled such pleasure in the viewer. The program I saw looks forward, but by no means shirks its inestimable past. Check out the wit in 1994’s Step Into My Dream, a clever throwaway duet that conjures a sun-kissed Riviera where dancers Eric Bourne and Sarah Braverman move sassily through air infused with pheromones (the ultra-sexy costumes for both by Missoni don’t hurt). Later Bourne will take that Parsons warhorse Caught (1982) and give it a bordering-on-superhuman dynamism that reminds us why this strobe-lit solo continues to elicit cheers.
It’s the new work that stops the heart, and makes you think. David Parson’s Round My World takes a choreographic idea (a circle) and exploits and expands it with a symmetry and elegance that encourages us to relish its byzantine mechanics. The dancers (all of them physically stunning) run with this material, tossing off what seem like never-ending variations of roundelays, spins and lifts with an ease that washes from the stage like a wave of bright joy. But the revelation of the night is A Stray’s Lullaby, choreographed by Katarzyna Skarpetowska (herself a notable dance artist, most recently with Lar Lubovitch). Museumgoers and gallery-haunters will recall the worker portraits coined by Diego Rivera (his original Rockefeller Center murals are now on display at MOMA), or the current show of anti-Nazi propaganda posters exhibited at Andrew Edlin’s Chelsea gallery. Skarpetowska and her stunning quartet of dancers (Christina Ilisije, Jason McDonald, Elena D’Amario and apprentice Christopher Bloom) animate those familiar sharp angles and anguished faces with a movement vocabulary that oozes its own poetry of pain and strife. Lullaby’s aura gets a huge help from Reid Barthelme’s ubër-drab costumes and the foreboding shadow of lights designed by Christopher Chambers. But this piece (like everything else on the bill) would impress in a rehearsal room lit only with fluorescents. Galvanizing doesn’t begin to describe the experience—go, and get your exaltation on.
Parsons Dance, now through Sunday Jan 22 at The Joyce Theater, New York