Parsons Dance is one of the most loved modern troupes around. That was clear once again on Friday night when the New York City-based ensemble returned to PS/21 for its fifth consecutive year, drawing nearly a capacity audience.
But at PS/21, the patrons’ adoration is even more avid. Rightly so, as the 11 members dish out their hearts and souls to the residents of this rural community.
But this weekend’s program was more memorable than most as the company bowled over PS/21 with its latest hit, “Remember Me.” Created by Artistic Director David Parsons and moving to reimagined opera arias by East Village Opera Company (EVOC), “Remember Me” sings as an ardent love triangle drama that has its audience crying and smiling. This wonderfully conceived work was elevated by the Parson trademark style that drips with gusto and grace. Adding to that were the classic arias that have been reshaped into rock ballads and anthems. Listening to EVOC jamming sounds and seeing Parsons dancers blaze through them heightened senses and intensified audience absorption.
The heart of “Remember Me” is Abby Silva Gavezzoli, who is the object of desire for Zac Hammer and Miguel Quinones. She enters by parting a crowd to Mozart’s overture from “Le Nozze di Figaro.” In her red dress and with long, blonde hair flying across her face, she exudes girlish joy. Her sunshine attracts Quinones, whose feline movement and hypnotic style is unmatched. Hammer too is drawn. He is Quinones’ opposite, a straightforward, boy-next-door type who surprises with his directness.
As she debates the attention of her suitors, to Bizet’s “Habanera” from Carmen, she is pulled in two directions — mysterious Quinones or the sincere Hammer. She falls for the latter and the two tumble in a steamy pas de deux under and above a stage-length cloth.
Passions run high throughout — especially for Gavezzoli, who dances a tortured solo after being rebuffed by her lover. Quinones also stood out for his convincing pursuit of Gavezzoli, which was relentless. Of course, it ended happily, but not after Hammer delivered a dark deed.
The work deserved its standing ovation. The crowd was so taken that they could not settle down for “Caught,” the evening’s finisher. Audience members were forced to yell to others to sit back down. They were happy they did, as Parsons’ signature solo is a dazzler. Though the company performs it on every visit to PS/21, the piece that uses a strobe light to capture the dancer in flight never grows old. Audiences love it and eagerly anticipate it, time and again.
While it’s terrific to have Parsons perform here each summer, its exuberance is a problem on the PS/21 stage. Small and without wings, it restricts the dancers, who must hold back or risk injury. Maybe one of Parsons’ fans will refashion a stage for them at PS/21. Knowing how much they are loved, it wouldn’t be a surprise.