Parsons Dance Company is the model home of eighties contemporary dance. It is inoffensive in every possible way. If you are looking for a dance experience that is easily digestible and classic, that was Parsons Dance Company Saturday performance at the Park City Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. If you are a member of the more diverse and eclectic dance audience of Salt Lake, the show could be considered bland.
That being said, the beauty of Parsons Dance is that they are form based and that is beautiful, and valid in its own right. Parsons has sprinkled pantomime throughout the show to keep things feeling more playful than just a display of technique. That makes the show more approachable. The form that dominates the show and is obviously Parsons’ primary focus is the epitome of old school contemporary dance. It does not become extreme enough to fall into one particular category of classic modern dance technique or ballet. In fact, the movement is so ambiguous I was wondering if Parsons’ even had an esthetic or just a marketable way of constructing bodies in space. His look is classical and respectable in every possible way without again being too risky. Even the unexpected leaps by the male dancers are not accented enough to draw attention away from the smooth pirouettes of the female dancers.
The one scene where Parsons breaks from his signature, melodic movement and slow fading colorful backlight is to showcase a single male dancer with strobes. The piece breaks away from Parsons’ classic, fully light, proscenium to fleeting bursts of light and total darkness. The soloist is impressive because he times his leaps and bounces perfectly with the lighting to never be seen standing on the ground. This is different from the rest of Parsons’ show. However, just as the pantomime fell short of forming a complete thought that challenges the audience, this piece falls short of being anything more than an impressive display of a man’s timing and altitude.
All of this polite crowd pleasing culminates in a very agreeable show, the same way strolling through a spotlessly clean model home is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. It is easy brain candy. I for one would rather spend my time in a hundred year old home with floors that creak, because it has character, it is not easy to digest, it makes me think outside the ticky tack of the model home and I like it that way. Both are valid choices; if you prefer to keep things simple, sit back and enjoy some beautiful form and by all means I will recommend this show. However, if you want to chew on something and mull it over for days after the show, don’t bother: it was not a memorable dance experience.
Natalie Graves is a SLC-based dance artist