David Parsons’s versatility as a choreographer is on display during Parsons Dance’s performance on April 6, which is presented at the Lensic Performing Arts Center by Performance Santa Fe.
The eclectic program, which features works created by Parsons from 1982 through 2017, shows the wide range of movements that has been exciting Parsons for more than 30 years.
“Caught,” a solo piece that was choreographed and danced by Parsons in 1982, has had a long and illustrious life. Dancers from Alvin Ailey to Mikhail Baryshnikov have presented this incredibly demanding work.
“It’s exhausting,” says Parsons, who is the company’s artistic director. “There are 100 jumps in five minutes. You can hear the audience gasp. My original intent in creating the piece was to give the image of someone floating on stage.”
Hip-hop moves, which influenced Parsons’s work during the time he lived in New York’s South Bronx in the early 1980s, are in the beginning of “Caught.” Parsons explores hip-hop more fully in “Upend,” a work on the program that was commissioned for Parsons Dance for its 2017 season.
Parsons has been creating dances that interact with visual art for many years. His work “Finding Center” (2015), a piece for seven dancers, was inspired by an exhibit of artwork by his longtime friend Rita Blitt, whom Parsons has known since he was 12 years old.
Other works on the program are “Hand Dance” (2003), “Whirlaway” (2014) and “Wolfgang” (2005), which was commissioned by and created for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
Parsons, who started his career as a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, has created works for many of the country’s top dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and New York City Ballet. Among his awards are the 2000 Dance Magazine Award and the 2011 Dance Masters of America Award.
Parsons can’t talk about his choreography without mentioned his lighting designer Howell Binkley, a Tony Award-winning designer who was honored for his work on “Jersey Boys” in 2006 and “Hamilton” in 2016.
“Howell and I started working together in 1986,” Parsons adds. “He almost reads my mind. His lighting is my muse.”