Parsons Dance dazzles Laxson with avant-garde style


Parsons Dance Company

Left to right: Rachel Harris, Deidre Rogan, Megan Garcia, Croix Diienno, Henry Steele, Eoghan Dillon, DaMond Lemonte Garner and Zoey Anderson

Internationally renowned dance troupe Parsons Dance Company amazed the Laxson Auditorium audience with contemporary, avant-garde and broadway-inspired choreography on April 3. 

The six-routine set featured a mixture of classic performances from the company’s earlier days and new routines choreographed by founder David Parsons along with the company’s eight dancers.

Originally choreographed in 1984, “The Envelope” opened the show with modern movements and abstract sounds. Donned in black hoods and sunglasses, the dancers contest for the possession of a seemingly magical envelope that evades all attempts to get rid of and control it. The envelope is tossed off stage only for it to get thrown back from the wings and the rafts, earning several laughs from the audience. 

“The Envelope” features the full Parsons cast, but only six of the eight dancers can be seen at a time. A group of four performs as a sharp ensemble while an alternating pair of dancers take the forefront. 

The angular movements from the opening routine were complemented by Croix Diienno’s cut-throat solo “Balance of Power.” It opens with Diienno standing on his hands before being moved by the percussion-heavy track. 

Diienno implemented isolated motions to match the march of the drums as if the drums were punching him from within. 

The dancers introduced another long-form act “The Road,” which was added to the Parsons catalog in 2021. In contrast to the abstract nature of the first two routines, “The Road” depicts a fluid, interconnected performance. The company begins this routine as one enmeshed figure with interlocked limbs before breaking off in pairs. Much of the routine is run as a series of duets with group choreography layered inbetween.

As an upbeat, contemporary piece, “The Road” showcases the chemistry between the Parsons dancers. The subtle caresses and light movements in this piece show a particular care for both the routine and company stage presence.

In preparation for this tour, the company lived together every other month in a rehearsal space in Chatham, New York. 

“We spent two years only performing for one another, only dancing with one another and living with one another,” dancer DaMond Lemonte Garner said. “And I think that so easily and so beautifully reflects itself on stage.”

After a brief intermission, the samba-inspired “Microburst” simulates a conversation between Caribbean percussionist Avirodh Sharma and his tabla. Four dancers in black, fringed pants create small bursts of movement in time to the beat.

“It’s about rhythm, how rhythm builds and how that musicality changes,” Garner said. “It’s super intimate.” 

The company introduced another classic Parsons solo routine, “Caught.” Originally choreographed in 1982 and performed by Zoey Anderson, the piece is accompanied by ambient music and strobe lights to make it appear as if Anderson is flying across the stage. 

The lights suspend Anderson mid-leap as she reaches all corners of the stage. The audience never sees her feet touch the ground.

“The strobe lights are perfectly timed to the routine,” Anderson said. “It’s over 100 jumps in six minutes and I look like I’m literally flying.”

Anderson received a roaring applause for her performance.

Parsons Dance Company closed the show with the 1990 routine “Nascimento.” The contemporary piece depicts traditional broadway choreography performed by the entire cast. The routine carries the themes of birth, new beginnings and complex romance. 

With warm lighting and costumes, the routine largely features ensemble dancing with brief duets in between. It is dedicated to Brazilian singer-songwriter, Milton Nascimento, who composed the score for this routine as a gift to the company.

After an extended bow, the company received a standing ovation from the audience. 

Parsons Dance Company will continue their U.S. tour at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on April 9. The performance will be held at Harold Miossi Hall.

Michaela Harris can be reached at and @MichaelaRH21 on Twitter.