Sunday, January 11, 2009

Parsons "Remember Me" Review

At the end of David Parsons’ new rock opera collaboration “Remember Me,” two vocalists from the East Village Opera Company repeat: “Love is everything. Everything. Everything. Everything…” And everything is what Parsons seems to have piled into this work that premiered in his current Joyce season.

Loosely based around the story of a love triangle, the piece takes Parsons’ fantastic choreographic style and strong dancers and dilutes them in noise - both audible and visual. Familiar opera arias are infused with twangs, bangs, and extra volume. And the splendor of movement is challenged by the busy set.

A collaboration implies a coexistence of two forms, and in that sense Parsons was successful. His integration of EVOC’s lead singers, AnnMarie Milazzo and Tyley Ross, with his powerful dancers worked (most of the time) so that neither physically distracted from the other. When they weren’t shadowing the lead dancers as if becoming the angel on their shoulder (or the scream of death, as Milazzo was in Abby Silva’s ear), often the two stood on either side near the wings, rotating slowly in dim light. Both vocalists had gritty, forceful singing, but Ross held a significantly stronger stage presence.

Dancer Abby Silva plays the main love interest, with Zac Hammer and Miguel Quinones as her two suitors. Hammer’s brief solo under a peaceful moonlight backdrop is one of few times the art of Parsons’ choreography can be read. In most other sections Howell Blinkley’s creative but chaotic lighting design draws away from being tasteful, with backgrounds ranging from trippy flowers twirling to static lightning bolts to bubbling water ripples.

Another clunky section that the choreography deserves better from is a pas de deux where Silva is harnessed and “flying.” The thick wires holding her are very conspicuous and, though they allow her breathtaking suspensions of weight, kill the overall illusion.

Perhaps the work might be better in a more raw state. Towards the end of the 75-minute evening the stage goes black. The dancers emerge horizontally, corpse-like, into the front slivers of light. With that haunting image the other members of Parsons’ company finally dance without distractions. Here is a sole moment worth remembering in an otherwise scattered dance.

(The Times review is here).

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