David Parker & Gina Gibney at Symphony Space
Creating a feasible and successful platform for new dance works requires the same research, consideration, experimentation, and evaluation that any performance work deserves. For this past Friday and Saturday night, Symphony Space invited choreographers Gina Gibney and David Parker to share and weave together an evening of dances for its “Short Form Weave.” The idea was to juxtapose the VERY different kinetic and aesthetic worlds of these artists as a way to enliven their work. The choreographers shared the same composer, Ryan Lott (aka ‘Son Lux’) and a similar love of compositional formalism, but little else. The works were two complete dances simply split down the middle – first we saw Parker’s “Other Arrangements I,” then the first two sections of Gibney’s “concrete mecanique,” then Parker’s dance picked up where it had left off, and finally, Gibney concluded the program with her final two sections. I’d say the format is in the early stages of experimentation and could use significant re-evaluation. As usual, when a presenter drops a format onto artists, rather than letting the artists generate a more organic system for sharing space and time with one another, the end result feels forced and artificial. As a means for comparison, it served the group of Hunter College students who joined me, but neither work was served exceptionally well by cutting it in half.
Parker had recently adjudicated 27 (!) student choreographed works at Hunter and it was “exciting, interesting, fun” for them to judge the work of someone who had recently judged theirs. The two choreographers provided excellent examples for the development of form with excellent clear examples of motif and development, canon, counterpoint, and all that classroom stuff. But, beyond the classroom, Parker proves exemplary in offering rigorous hunks of that ever-elusive Original Voice. He is a master of choreographic repartee. The witty sexuality and whimsical structures seduce audiences into gleeful response while craftily providing us with sophisticated deconstructions and re-inventions of multiple dance genres. “Other Arrangements” is danced with rampant individuality by Terry Duncan, Marissa Palley, Amber Sloan, Nic Petry and the indefatigable Jeffrey Kazin. This company, from well beyond the cookie-cooker dance mold, brings Parker’s multiple movement streams and sources together into cohesive wholes. Luscious, sweeping, full-group interchanges are as masterfully handled as Petry and Kazin’s delightful deconstruction of “Tea for Two” both in sung and whistled versions. Parker’s work speaks to the world we live in now, one with constantly disappearing borders.