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Reviews for Margot Parsons

 

from The New York Times
by Brian Seibert
April 16, 2014

In “Dreams,” a trio by Margot Parsons, a veteran teacher and choreographer well known in Boston, two of the women from “Kinderszenen” were steadier — less flustered, perhaps, by this piece’s more consistent pressure. In Timothy Church’s costumes, the three women looked like muses, and Ms. Parsons’s handsome groupings could have made the ballet static. Yet it had momentum. Movement along tracks with a stiff arm extended suggested fate or the inexorable advance of time.

 

from Dance Magazine
by Iris Fanger
June 8 and 9, 2012


"Here & There: A Celebration of Dancers" Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA June 8–9, 2012

Performance reviewed: June 8

Margot Parsons, artistic director of DanceVisions, Inc., makes dances based on classical ballet technique but informed by the contemporary practice of borrowing from other movement styles. Although the seven pieces she presented for her troupe's 30th anniversary concert were basically abstract, gestures such as three women patting the air beside them as if to measure out walls, or the touch of one performer's hand on another's shoulder, served to suggest the geography of the space or their relationships. Parsons created all of the works on the 90-minute program, except for a brief but potent solo, Transparent (2012), choreographed and performed by Christine McDowell. Almost as if reflecting on her own career—from performing professionally in New York and Boston, to spending decades here in Boston as a beloved instructor and choreographer—Parsons made us well aware of the passage of time. The multi-generational casting included one 6-year-old performer, Ruby Giunta, paired with her mother, Daisy, in the charming Dance for Ruby (2012), and two older women moving in different ways but no less succinctly than the eight younger dancers in Tapestry (2012).

Most of the twelve company members (eleven women and one man) have studied with Parsons at Boston University, Boston College, or Harvard. (She currently teaches at all three schools.) The dancers, wearing soft ballet shoes, have been well trained and rehearsed, but like many Boston-based performers, they lack the patina of stage presence. They need more opportunities onstage to acquire the skills of connecting to an audience. For example, in an otherwise fine performance of Temporal Constellation (2012), Nicole DeVicci, perhaps the most technically accomplished member of the company, and her strong and reliable partner, Langston Fishburne, needed to trust their instincts to break free from a strict reading of the choreography and counts. The score, Chick Corea's Señorita, cried out for a more teasing sense of fun. Tapestry, set to Shostakovich, was the most ambitious work of the evening, a shifting mass of quartets, trios, and duets for a cast that ranged in years from teens to late middle-age. At the end, the talented, fully engaged 13-year-old Jacqueline Flynn stood centered between dancers from different generations, predicting good news for the future of the profession. The fluent dancer Marin Orlosky-Randow delivered a stand-out performance in the solo Flight (2011). Dressed in white, she repeatedly turned in and around one raised arm, before stepping into the space as precisely as a flamenco dancer, her feet echoing the rhythms of William Bolcom's Summer Dreams. Later, stretches that started deep within her torso propelled her body across the stage.

Dreams (2011), with an original score by Ai Isshiki and Steven Milton, looked like a nightmare enveloping a trio of dancers, until the climax, when DeVicci and McDowell bonded with the stalwart Fishburne by dangling from his supportive arms, while he carried them forward towards the audience. Here and There (2000) featured two women wearing white masks and moving with the tiny curling wrists and petite footwork of Baroque-era dance. In a final image, backs turned, they removed their masks and held them out to us, but never revealed their faces. Parsons has a skill for finding the visual metaphor to end each of her dances with a suggestive phrase, keeping the moment vivid in a viewer's mind.

from The Boston Herald
by Theodore Bale
Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dances Are Impressive Body of Work

Contemporary choreographer Margot Parsons doesn’t make isolated or vaguely inspired dances. Rather, each of her efforts is more proof of a personal cosmology.

What is allowed and what is prohibited in this cosmology? Responses suggest a woman who is philosophical rather than psychological, austerely formal and given to sudden bursts of passion.

Those qualities might seem to contradict each other. But last night at Boston University Dance Theater, Margot Parsons Dance Company offered five recent dances that were mesmerizing in their structure and wide-ranging in their aesthetic concerns.

Rounding out this classy program was a new piece by company member Angelina Lin (“Till We Have Faces”) and an ironic and poignant ensemble work conceived and last night; repeats tonight.directed by Judith Chaffee, with movement and text by some of this area’s most notable women (Ramelle Adams, Ann Brown Allen, Parsons and Micki Taylor-Pinney).

Parsons’ dances are ballets, sort of. Classical technique is her foundation, but she has her own system of port de bras, which can look like the dancers are holding imaginary semaphore flags, or perhaps developing the highly expressive arms of Fokine and Isadora.

In the 2002 “Terra Cotta,” for example, the arms are held in the “tree” pose from yoga, while the lower body is traveling on a strict trajectory, legs turned out and ready to move in any direction.

Young women, well matched in size and capability, perform these ballets. Usually Parsons restricts herself to quartets or duos, though she rarely arranges them in symmetrical patterns. Ceaseless motion is the concern, not tidiness.

And there is no hierarchy among the dancers, a political statement in itself. Last night, music ranged from the hectic etudes of Liszt to Dug Dineen’s rousing percussion and Evan Ziporyn’s expressive “Be-In.”

These are sophisticated choices that offer only distant support for the movement, which, if performed in silence, would radiate its own rhythms and structures.

“And So It Goes” was the finale and only premiere, an emphatic meeting of the elements and another example of Parsons’ evident affinity for the natural world.
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from the Boston Herald
November 20, 2005

Margot Parsons seek[s] new schemes to arrange classically trained dancers. Parsons went for unexpected grandeur via simplicity in “Etude.” 
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from the Boston Herald
December 31, 2004

Two local choreographers top the 2004 list for inexhaustible productivity and a fertile imagination. Margot Parsons made several significant ballets this year, most notable the well-crafted “Sweeping Pools of Time,” an intricate duet set to Tibetan bell music.
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from the Boston Globe
October 4, 2004

The most substantial and satisfying work on the program was the premier of Margot Parsons’sthree part “Sweeping Pools of Time,” in which an expansive embrace of traditional vocabulary was enriched by modern influences, especially off-center turns and balances, and held poses that collapsed with a visceral sense of release. Rebecca Bromberg’s solo featured liquid arms with expressive fingers, while Daisy Giunta’s more vigorous turn was often driven by arms that sliced through the air like semaphores. Both solos were beautifully structured with a visually compelling use of space. In the final duet, the two excellent dancers found common ground in unison and imitative phrases that pulled movement qualities from each solo.
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from the Boston Herald
May 5, 2003

Margot Parsons restricted herself to only three ballerinas in "Way," set to David Polan's original piano score "Maqamat," and she moved back and forth between episodes of emphatic unison dancing and lyrical adage and floor work that resembles moving sculpture. Polan's score has a rhapsodic quality that Parsons mirrored with vigorous passages for the arms and what appeared to be spontaneously arising hand gestures.
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from the Boston Globe
April 30, 2002

Margot Parsons was the most successful at combining traditional ballet vocabulary with contemporary edge and momentum. In her "Terra Cotta," set to atmospheric live percussion by Dug Dineen, four dancers (Rebecca Bromberg, Susan MacNichol, Courtney Peix, and Cynthia Fee White) catapulted through space in brilliant leaps and sizzling turns, their long-lined elegance set off by angular arms. (Boston Globe, April 30, 2002)
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from the Boston Herald
April 29, 2002

Margot Parsons continues to use original music performed live for her well-structured choreography. "Terra Cotta," set to Dug Dineen's fervent drumming, is her most emphatic work to date, a gripping ritual that was danced full-out with remarkable conviction by Rebecca Bromberg, Susan MacNichol, Courtney Peix, and Cynthia Fee White.
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from the Boston Globe
Tuesday, March 26, 2001

Parsons's "Sometimes in the Night," a premiere set to powerful piano music played live by its composer, Gregor Loepfe, featured four young women in combat, defying the dainty ballerina stereo-type.
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from the Boston Herald
March 26, 2001

Margot Parsons's ardent "Sometimes in the Night," a premiere, was the most intensely dramatic work. Gregor Loepfe's original polyrhythmic piano accompaniment (in a stunning performance by the composer) provided a secure and intricate foundation for Parsons to express themes of invasion and warriorship. Courtney Peix and Cynthia Fee White were strength personified, while Leticia Guerrero and Dina Ternullo were terrifyingly unglamorous.
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from the Boston Globe
Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Margot Parsons's "Arachne," set to a David Polan score for violin, cello, and piano, played live, is an adept and inventive retelling of the myth of Athena turning the title character into a spider, with choreography in a neoclassical mode. Parsons managed the neat trick of suggesting both the weaving that got Arachne into trouble and her metamorphosis without any over-literal mime that would have disrupted the work's dancey flow.
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from TheTab
April, 1998

Margot Parsons (has) ... been a member of the Boston dance community for more than 20 years, quietly and determinedly going about this business of producing independent work.

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Reviews for Dance on the Top Floor

from the Boston Herald
Monday,  May 5, 2003

Top-notch show floors audience
by Theodore Bale 

“Dance on the Top Floor” at the Robsham Theater at Boston College, Saturday night.

Eight stunning contemporary ballets made for an evening of ideal entertainment at Saturday night's Dance on the Top Floor,” presented this year at the spacious and comfortable Robsham Theater at Boston College.

There was something for everyone in this show and nothing to complain about, making this one of those nights where everything comes together in a kind of exhilarating perfection.

Carter Alexander's “V,” which got the show off to an elegant start, is a success for two important reasons. Alexander finds infinite variety in the ways five ballerinas can group and re-group, and he organizes the events with great attention to the phrases of Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor.

Margot Parsons restricted herself to only three ballerinas in “Way,” set to David Polan's original piano score “Maqamat,” and she moved back and forth between episodes of emphatic unison dancing and lyrical adage and floor work that resembles moving sculpture. Polan's score has a rhapsodic quality that Parsons mirrored with vigorous passages for the arms and what appeared to be spontaneously arising hand gestures.

Richard Chen See's choreography in “Three Short Dance” was constantly in flux, giving it a mesmerizing quality that suggested cycles of growth and decay, and making one experience the versatility of classical technique without any stuffiness.

Ryan Kelly's puzzling ceremony titled “Re-Covering the Concrete” recalls thearticulation and richness of Merce Cunningham's style, and it unfolded beautifully along J.L. Packard's original soundscape.

Nathan Trice's intuitive “Felt” was so convincingly performed by Sophia Brion-Meisles that it could have gone on forever and nobody would have complained.

Boston Ballet dancer Andrea Schermoly gave a rousing interpretation of Viktor Plotnikov's unpredictable “A Louisiana Mist,” a thrilling dance that accumulates density as it progresses. She also made Patricia Strauss' “That Fine Line” into something quite sexy and ruminating. Both dances gave the show its honest hipness. And Schermoly herself took on a Beethoven string quartet for her refreshing ensemble work “High Stakes,” a sophisticated escapade punctuated by an errant red balloon.

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from the Boston Globe
LIVING ARTS
Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Polished performances accent festival
by Christine Temin

The six-year-old series called Dance on the Top Floor has relocated from Boston Ballet’s top floor studio to the ground-level Robsham Theater at Boston College, where it debuted Saturday. At BC, the sightlines are better, there’s more seating, and parking. And the three producers – Margot Parsons, Eve Rounds, and Patricia Strauss – are presenting another event this weekend. Called Dancers at the Robsham, it will have works by Boston Youth Moves, Dance Collective, Ruth Benson Levin, Snappy Dance Theater, Gus Solomons, Jr., Robert VerEecke, S.J., and Parsons.

The emphasis this Friday and Saturday is on modern work. Last Saturday’s program was billed as featuring “current trends in contemporary ballet,” which, thank goodness, it didn’t. The current trend is story ballets with high-name recognition and elaborate décor.

There was none of that last weekend. The eight brief works focused squarely on the choreography, which ranged from competent to a delightful surprise at the end. The evening would have been more cohesive if it had had longer works by fewer people, but chances for local choreographers to show their work are few, and the tendency to pack a program with as many pieces as possible is understandable.

Balanchine was the obvious inspiration behind Carter Alexander’s “V,” with the five women in ever-changing but predictable patterns. The trio of performers in Richard Chen See’s “Three Short Dances” were often intertwined. One segment was dedicated to childlike movements; another features text about paralysis and the necessity for stasis, which, the unseen narrator says, “is to movement as silence is to music.”

The three women in “Way,” by Parsons, seemed like supplicants engaged in somber rites. In Nathan Trice’s Middle Eastern-flavored solo, “Felt,” Sophia Brion-Meisles was eloquent and expressive, a driven spirit whose body curled in on itself. In an excerpt from his “Re-covering the Concrete,” Ryan Kelly danced with Brock Labrenz in a duet about mutual support, both physical and emotional.

The performers – students and young professionals – were all polished. The evening had a star: Andrea Schermoly, a 21-year-old member of Boston Ballet II, the main company’s apprentice group. She was the lone dancer in both “A Louisiana Mist,” by Boston Ballet principal Viktor Plotnikov, and “That Fine Line,” by Strauss. Plotnikov had the tall, supple Schermoly walking heel first and challenged her to make intentionally awkward steps look graceful, which she did. Plotnikov created not only the steps but also the jazzy score for bass guitar and synthesizer.

The program ended with its most innovative piece – “High Stakes” – which Schermoly herself choreographed. A romp for nine dancers, it begins and ends with a man and his red balloon. In between are doll-like gestures, allusions to folk dance, finger-pointing that said “naughty,” and a general playfulness. Using the finale of Beethoven’s “Razoumovsky” String Quartet No. 3 was a clever stroke. Now for the sad news: Schermoly is moving to Holland, where she’ll join the Netherlands Dance Theater.

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from The Patriot Ledger
ENTERTAINMENT
April 26-27, 2003

Three women put on Festival of Dance
by Susan Daniels

Three women with big visions and small pocketbooks have accomplished the nearly impossible: Producing not one but two back-to-back dance concerts and pulling it off with style.

A Festival of Dance, the new designation for Dance on the Top Floor and Dancers at the Robsham is produced by Margot Parsons, Eve S. Rounds and Patricia Strauss, a triumvirate of talent whose passion for good choreography, skillfully executed, has earned them practically an annual spot on the critics’ lists of top 10 dance events.

“Dance is a wonderful and often overlooked form of communication that presents itself through color, motion, and sound,” said Parsons, choreographer and ballet teacher at several Boston and Cambridge universities and dance centers.

For the past five years, “Top,” a mixture of Boston and New York choreographers and dancers, was produced on the top floor of the Boston Ballet studio. But due to its success – every year it sells out – the one-night event is moving to Boston College’s Robsham Theater.

Although there was always something magical about watching dance in an intimate setting that looked out onto the charm of the South End rooftops – even the dancers’ sweat dropping on people in the front row added a certain aura – the change in venues is a positive step, since it can accommodate larger crowds and offers better sight lines.

“Top” offers an eclectic evening of contemporary ballet from eight choreographers. Ryan Kelly, formerly of the New York City Ballet, presents an excerpt from his full-length dance-theater work, “Re-covering the Concrete.” Performing to an original score, Margot Parsons Dance Company offers “Way,” a piece for three dancers collectively finding their own energy through pathways of light.

Boston Ballet teacher Patricia Strauss presents “That Fine Line,” a solo for a woman dealing with love and obsession.

Richard Chen See of the Paul Taylor Dance Company presents “Musing,” an abstract work for three dancers; “Kids on the Hill,” a duet; and “Shapelifting,” a solo to the spoken word.

Wearing both the choreographer’s and composer’s hat, Viktor Plotnikov, principal dancer with the Boston Ballet, presents a solo, performed by a female dancer from the company.

Boston Ballet II member Andrea Schermoly offers “High Stakes,” a work about pawns in a crooked game, set to Beethoven and performed by the full cast of BB II.

In keeping with the Festival’s vision of presenting emerging new artists, Carter Alexander of the Massachusetts Youth Ballet offers “V,” a dance about five women exploring their relationship, set to music by Vivaldi.

And last year’s show-stopper, New York dancer Nathan Trice, presents “Felt,” a solo about a woman reminiscing about a former lover.

The following weekend, Dancers at the Robsham offers an evening of modern dance from eight choreographers, primarily from the Boston area.

Choreographer Micki Taylor-Pinney, one of the pillars of the City’s modern dance community, whose piece “Untethered” explores the quality of being off-balance, feels appreciative of the efforts of Parsons and her two colleagues.

“Margot really provides a service to the dance community and deserved kudos for that,” said Taylor-Pinney, artistic co-director of Dance Collective and dance coordinator at Boston University.

“Producing a dance concert is challenging enough, but producing it in Boston in this economic climate,” she added, “is even more difficult.” One of Parsons’ three dances on the program, “Tossed Salad,” performed to live accompaniment, captures a mix of ingredients, “offering a range of human emotions.”

Rounding out the concert are independent choreographer Ruth Benson Levin, the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble, Snappy Dance Theater, Boston Youth Moves, and New York-based dancers, Gus Solomons, Jr. and Sun Ho Kim, both formerly from Boston.

According to Parsons, one of the benefits of expanding from dance event to festival is the opportunity to offer master classes during both weekends. (Classes in ballet, modern, jazz, and lifting are available for $15 each, and reservations can be made by calling 617-484-6260.)

“What drives us is this incredible passion for dance. We ask people to come, some even from distances, and no one gets paid big bucks,” said Parsons.

“Basically, we are three women with our own private schedules of teaching and performing, and we’re able to step aside and say, ‘This needs to be done.”

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