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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
Argentine Tangos
The Joyce Theater
United States
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New York
New York, NY

The Parsons Dance Company

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 23, 2002
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

About the Author:

The Parsons Dance Company


David Parsons, Artistic Director

Elizabeth Koeppen, Associate Artistic Director
Tim Cynova, Acting Executive Director
Rosemary McCarthy, Marketing and Operations Manager
Brian K. Hillman, production Stage Manager
Ashley Trimble, Company Manager and Assistant Stage Manager
Howell Binkley, Lighting Designer
John Mackey, Music Director
Jovanna Huguet, Ellen Jacobs Associates, Publicity, ejacobsassociates@earthlink.net

Presented at the Joyce Theater

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 23, 2002

The Envelope: Choreography by David Parsons, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by Gioacchino Rossini, Costumes by Judy Wirkula, Performed by Elizabeth Koeppen, Sumayah McRae, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Marty Lawson, Michael Snipe, Abby Silva, and Brian McGinnis. In black, hooded, sleeveless pajama-like costumes, the ensemble of dancers created insect-like, centipede formations of bodies, as they continually threw or passed one persistent envelope, which had an inherent force of its own, from dancer, to offstage, to dancer, to ensemble. This was a humorous and highly effective piece, set to a Rossini score. The male dancers, in mock ballet technique, were engaging, and the entire cast performed with precision to the music and toward an unusually creative series of geometric patterns.

Parsons Dance Company dancers: Mia McSwain, Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Marty Lawson
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield

Takademe: Choreography by Robert Battle, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by Sheila Chandra, Costumes by Missoni, Performed by Mia McSwain. Ms. McSwain was an amazing whirlwind of wild emotion, in this African-style piece to contemporary, fast-talking music. With superb agility and focus on the exact, pulsating rhythm, Ms. McSwain transformed into a dancer, performing an exotic and tribal rite.

Tango Oficina: Choreography by David Parsons, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by Astor Piazzolla, Le Grand Tango, performed by Elizabeth Koeppen and Marty Lawson. To one of my favorite scores of Argentine Tango music, Ms. Koeppen, in a black suit dress, with side leg split, and Mr. Lawson, in a black suit, push and pull from each other to the dramatic and passionate interpretation of Piazzolla, which appears to be from Yo Yo Ma's, Soul of the Tango (Yo Yo Ma Website). For an experienced Tanguera, like me, it was a different experience to see Modern Dance choreography to a popular Tango piece, which has been the music for many Tango performers and social dancers. It would be interesting to see the same piece performed with more authentic Tango coaching for the two performers, so that Modern Dance could FUSE with Tango, the way West Coast Swing FUSED with Tango in Swango…The Fusion (See Reviews and Interviews). However, the dancers possessed flexibility and form, suited to this performance design.

Stand Back: Choreography by Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by Nandor Weisz, Costumes by Mia McSwain, Performed by Mia McSwain, Sumayah McRae, John Carroll, Brian McGinnis, Michael Snipe, and Abby Silver. The audience awarded the Company with Bravura acclaim with this dynamic and electric piece. Mr. Carroll and Ms. McSwain were especially remarkable in their athleticism and uninhibited energy. The contemporary score and remarkable choreography engaged the dancers and audience in total togetherness of mind and spirit.

Union: Choreography by David Parsons, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by John Corigliano, Costumes by Donna Karan, Performed by Elizabeth Koeppen, Mia McSwain, Sumayah McRae, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Marty Lawson, Michael Snipe, Abby Silva, Brian McGinnis, and Timothy Bish. With half or fully bared chests, the female dancers were clothed exactly like the male dancers, in scant, black unitards, that left them partially covered and that made art of moving and falling breasts. The Union of dancers was expertly conceived by Mr. Parsons, as this highly erotic and sensual piece progressed in interwoven and interesting fashion to a Corigliano score.

Caught: Choreography by David Parsons, Lighting by David Parsons and Howell Binkley, Music by Robert Fripp, Performed by Katarzyna Skarpetowska. In a mind-altering display of kinetic jumps, to strobe lights and electric music, Ms. Skarpetowska, in white costume, was seen literally in mid-air, as if flying in space, as the lighting was perfectly coordinated to her movement, and it only showed the upward leaps and jumps. In between takes, she would be seen in still, bright light against the black stage. This is an amazingly choreographed piece. Kudos to Mr. Parsons and to Mr. Howell designing this rare visual experience.

Too Many Cooks: Choreography by David Parsons, Lighting by Howell Binkley, Music by Juan Garcia Esquivel, Costumes by Mia McSwain, Performed by Elizabeth Koeppen, Mia McSwain, Sumayah McRae, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, John Carroll, Marty Lawson, and Brian McGinnis. This campy, slapstick piece used giant whisks and soup ladles as weapons, as chefs and waiters and kitchen help, in culinary hats and costumes tasted imaginary ingredients, flirted, fell onto each other, danced in solo and ensemble aerobic fashion, and generally created chaos in the imaginary, onstage restaurant. Ms. Skarpetowska, an amazingly versatile performer and choreographer (Stand Back), took the lead as Chef extraordinaire and chastised recalcitrant help. She is a performer to watch.

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