Culture » Visual Arts

Light and Flight

David Parsons and Company touches down at the Pikes Peak Center



On Feb. 16, Pikes Peak Center will be graced by the athleticism, charm and humor of New York City's David Parsons and Company. Lead choreographer David Parsons is responsible for creating more than 50 dance pieces to date, and will bring some of the finest to Colorado next week, including his signature piece, "Caught," which is not to be missed. This is the only piece that David dances alone, and the use of a strobe light creates the illusion of flight when combined with David's impressive vigorous choreography.

All of the other dances are ensemble pieces, some using all of the company's 10 dancers. The dancers are a racially diverse group of men and women with impressive dance histories. Their goal is to offer modern dance that touches audiences in both profound and accessible ways. An example of this mission is the piece "Closure," which will be part of next week's show. As New York Times reviewer Jennifer Dunning described it, "The fast-shifting bodies glimpsed through rays of dazzling light look almost one-dimensional, becoming rounded and whole as the dancers move through calmer open space created by more ordinary stage lighting. Mr. Parsons adds to the richness of the stage picture with charged and flowing patterns that are not only ingeniously plotted but also contribute to the dance's building emotions. There is a gentle affection here, as well as love and anger, but everything is suggested just through the movement and groupings of dancers."

The collaborative nature of the Parsons show should yield interesting artistic variety as well. Two of the dances the ensemble will perform next week are "Mood Indigo" and "Strange Humors," both choreographed by company member Robert Battle who has been with David Parsons and Company since 1994. "Strange Humors" is an athletic duet that is loosely based on the tango and deals with the complexity of human relationships. This allusion to the tango promises an extra dimension of meaning because that dance is also about the communication of tension. "Strange Humors" has been called "a kind of choreographed argument."

The other noteworthy collaborative aspects of this show involve lighting and music. All but one of the dances are choreographed to original scores of music, yielding a tight fusion of sound and movement. In "Nascimento," the audience will experience an exuberant tribute to Brazilian music. Indeed, composer Milton Nascimento created this score as a gift to the company after seeing one of their performances.

"Fill the Woods With Light" is another piece in which the audience will experience this fusion of music, dance and light. The entire company dances in this piece, whose score was commissioned by Phil Woods. The dancers occupy the nocturnal world of jazz music, lighting each other with a variety of handheld illuminatory instruments.

Since the company was organized in 1987, they have given nearly 700 performances on five different continents. David Parson's use of light, original music and intimate ensemble choreography should make for an exciting evening of modern dance at the Pikes Peak Center. If you miss the show there, however, the company will be in Boulder the following night, but then moves quickly on to Boston on Feb. 18.

Kimberly Dark is a freelance writer and performance artist living in Colorado and California.

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