David Parsons wants to entertain you. He wants to make you smile, laugh, tap your foot, nudge your neighbor. He wants you to feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
For better or worse, Parsons’s let’s-put-on-a-show exuberance comes through in everything he does. It’s the glory of his wacky operetta The Envelope and his cool strobe-light solo Caught. But when it comes to meandering dance party suites like In the End and the new Nascimento Novo, you may wish someone had been around to check that exuberance—or at least edit its output.
Parsons arrived for his two-week season at the Joyce with a group of strikingly young dancers, many of whom are new to the company. Their youth gives his work a hipper, more MTV look, especially in the new Peel, set to a hard-rocking strings-and-electronica score by Michael Gordon.
Peel is another Parsons dance with a gimmick— this time, taking reversible black-and-white T-shirts on and off at warp speed, sometimes donning them as masks or hoods, sometimes vamping and voguing.
Then comes a taut solo for a long-limbed beauty (Abby Silva), who fights to get free of her shirt as if her life depended on it. Behind her stands a group of strapping, near-naked men. Repeatedly, she makes a running dive at them, like a high jumper trying to clear the bar, but they always catch her and set her back down.
Not everyone would think of framing a woman’s obsession with appearance in such a literal way, but it makes for a powerhouse solo. It’s one of the advantages of having Parsons’s wide-ranging, audacious imagination.