It's hard to overstate how challenging our recent Chinese tour was to execute. Most new theaters are ENORMOUS caverns that needed to be largely reconfigured in order to stage our more moderately-sized restaging of David Parsons's Remember Me, and local technicians and audiences alike aren't quite sure how to react to contemporary dance yet. I'm pretty sure we won new fans in each of the 24 cities we visited in nearly 7 weeks on the road, but do the math and you'll realize we barely had time to get to know any of them. Our ambitious travel schedule meant that I spent more time in railway stations and airport terminals than visiting local sights or shopping. Between unfamiliar food and unfamiliar work crew rules, we were all pretty exhausted by the end. Still, I love how this photo from Huai'an captures the incredible spirit of our ten company dancers flying high everywhere we went.
Wow, everything IS bigger in Texas: the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas is truly a sight to behold. Its five-layer cake of seating rings would look more at home among our Italian tour stops than most of the cities we visit here in the US. The motorized fiber rods of its grand chandelier make any visiting artist feel special, and we were no exception. Dallas is our fourth Texan destination in the past two years, and definitely one of my favorites!
Each year, Parsons Dance looks forward to an annual two-week season at the beautiful and intimate Joyce Theater in New York City. Not only are the audiences sophisticated and the crew spectacular, but we also get to settle into a nice long run instead of the one-night-only tour life we're used to. Add the premiere of one or more new works choreographed by David Parsons and lit by company co-founder Howell Binkley (this year, we had...three!) and a splash of glamour from our gala opening night, and it makes for a memorable experience indeed.
This year we honored musical theatre composer and librettist--and Parsons collaborator--Stephen Schwartz, who played a live performance of Children of Eden's "Stranger to the Rain" on piano for a duet performed by two of our dancers, sung by talented vocalist Shoshana Bean.
Parsons Dance recently participated in the Virginia Arts Festival, which has for over 20 years presented arts and culture to a metropolitan area comprising almost 2 million people. At the bottom of this photo of Virginia Beach's Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, you can spot footlights for our company premiere of Trey McIntyre's "Ma Maison". Our student matinee audience loved the humor of our dancers performing as masked skeletons, and the evening's grown-ups loved the variety of tunes from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band too!
It's the first day of tech for Paradise Blue! Following a 2015 mainstage production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Dominique Morisseau's play about Detroit's Paradise Valley neighborhood is coming to the Signature. Converting a proscenium presentation to alley-style staging has been a challenge, but the added intimacy will serve audiences well.
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Lighting Design by Rui Rita
Associate Lighting Design by Mike Megliola
Set Design by Neil Patel
Costume Design by Clint Ramos
Sound Design by Darren West
Featuring Francois Battiste, Kristolyn Lloyd, Simone Missick, J. Alphonse Nicholson, and Keith Randolph Smith
The beautiful Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, NM is the frequent home of our presenter Performance Santa Fe. Despite the challenge of a 7,000-foot performance elevation, we had a wild time with two packed houses, including a student show with a super-excited Q&A afterward. Audiences like these remind us why we live to bring our work to the rest of the country and world!
Fort Collins, Colorado is home to The Lincoln Center. It's a big enough auditorium that our performance can really stretch and breathe--but the steep rake of the orchestra still provides that famous Parsons intimacy for every patron. Wish we'd had more time to explore this laid-back college town before moving on!
The Duncan Theater in Lake Worth, Florida is a perennial Parsons favorite. It isn't small, but the whole place feels intimate--continental-style seating and a shallow auditorium make every seat a good one. One thing I love seeing on tour is how different venues address the same road-house logistics. Here, creatively spike-taped stage weights anchor booms in storage to keep their loads balanced...and visible in the dark!
I love when theaters commemorate their visiting artists this way. It’s fun to connect with our own past as a company—and the rest of our fellow travelers on the road. The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts was a great host.
Ogden’s Val A. Browning Center hosted over 500 students this morning to watch a fun and engaging program of Parsons favorites before tomorrow’s full-length evening show. We love meeting the next generation of dance audiences!