Life under the strobes | VailDaily.com
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Life under the strobes

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyParsons is contemporary dance.
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Company member Elizabeth Koeppen brought “Caught” to the Vail International Dance Festival last summer. A signature number for the group, it explores the idea of a human flying. Using a strobe light activated by a hand-held device, Koeppen appears to be soaring through the air. When she hits the button, the lights stop, and there she is, grounded on the stage. It’s the sort of performance that never makes sense to the eye, but never fails to mystify and interest.

“Variety and risk is who we are,” said David Parsons, founder and artistic director. “That translates into the vocabulary too. Take ballet – that’s all about the classic vocabulary. But we want to learn a new language, a new style of dancing.”

And so they teach their bodies new words, new concepts.

They will be performing “Caught” on Friday, in addition to several other works including “Too Many Cooks,” “Kind of Blue” and “Stand Back.” There will also be some slow dances and swing numbers.

“Too Many Cooks,” based on the book “Kitchen Confidential,” is a comedy.

“A comedy is rare in the dance world,” said Parsons. “The music was composed by Jorge Escoval. He lived in Los Angeles and put together these crazy arrangements – they’d call it bachelor pad music or space age music – it’s a massive arrangement, over-the-top.”

And to this crazy music, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Parsons chose it because food can be so erotic with sexual overtones.

“We love to do variety with our performances,” he said. “We touch a lot of different people with a lot of different emotions.”

“Kind of Blue” is inspired by Miles Davis’ album by the same title. It was debuted in Italy. Parsons considers it to be one of the greatest jazz albums ever made.

Parsons has been taking risks since the beginning of his choreography career, which had him on stage, jumping on a trampoline toed Zeppelin.

He’s recently finished a piece for “American Dance Theater,” choreographed to the music of George Harrison.

“Contemporary dance has always been known to experiment, to take risks,” he said.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.


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