Each summer, Parsons Dance makes its way up the Taconic State Parkway to stir things up at PS/21 where its eager fans await. And every year, Parsons Dance invigorates those fans, securing its spot in their hearts and sometimes their homes, for yet another successive season.
The reason is simple: Parsons Dance gives its all. The performers invest their minds, bodies and souls in Artistic Director David Parsons’ athletic, joyous, pure dance work. And since the amphitheater/tent at PS/21 is so intimate, the Parsons powerful punch always sweeps audiences off their feet.
Truly, this annual event is a comfort for those who adore straight-up dance, as so many of today’s contemporary artists rely on gimmickry or technology as a performance device. Parsons, on the other hand, picks a great piece of music from such composers as Astor Piazzolla, Miles Davis or Milton Nascimento, and dances.
And, while Parsons is well into his middle years, his pieces are still hip and always physically and emotionally arousing to spectators — which should be no surprise, as Parsons learned from the master Paul Taylor. And of all the dancers to move from his company and form an ensemble, Parsons does it best.
The program, its sixth annual at PS/21, was a satisfying mix of works from the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s. Of course, “Caught,” the strobe-light spectacular, was on the bill. And so too were some old favorites, among them the humorous “The Envelope” and the uplifting “Nascimento.” The company also performed some lesser-known works, including the divine “Tango Oficina,” the simmering “Slow Dance” and the frisky “Kind of Blue.”
All of Parsons’ dancers are much like him — dynamic. But Sarah Braverman and Miguel Quinones dominated the program, with each appearing in five of six dances. As the senior dancers, they have absorbed the Parsons style so fully that it appears on them naturally — and they look fantastic. Better still, they have a wonderful chemistry that was made clear in the duet “Tango Oficina.”
To the music of Piazzolla, the dance began as solos. But the fire and attraction between the two onstage were conspicuous. As they inched forward and locked bodies, their honest affection was arresting. It was most obvious in the horizontal lifts. Quinones held her up gently and cradled his head in ecstasy in the curve of her waist.
This piece ended with a funny bit about her getting pregnant, them growing old together and then both flopping dead on the floor.
“Kind of Blue” also had a terrific airing. To Davis’ “So What,” four dancers, Braverman with Jason MacDonald and Melissa Ullom with Steven Vaughn, skipped and spun through a flirty and cheeky dance that defined the free capriciousness of youth.
“Slow Dance,” with three couples entwined, demonstrated Parsons’ ability to define elegance and sophistication. But his most charming work was saved for last. “Nascimento,” named for its composer, was an exhilarating closer to Parsons’ annual show. The company left audiences eager for more and happily anticipating next summer.