Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Commonality"...Adam Parson

Recently, in discussing the work of Kate Jablonski, I referenced the idea of movement qualities. While Kate's work makes extensive use of PENDULAR and SUSTAINED movement, I thought it would be interesting to feature a non-tap piece that works in the PERCUSSIVE vein. Adam Parson's work is multi-influencial and has its roots in classic jazz, commercial street dance and afro/world rhythms. For this reason, it is fascinating how he is able to translate the vibrant hits of the 1,3,5, and 7 beats into a visual landscape you can identify in the dancers' bodies.

MUSICALITY: Its important to reiterate that percussive movement is either choreo that makes an audible noise (ie tap, stepping, gumboot, irish step, clogging) or any movement that WOULD make a noise if it were to make impact with a surface. So by that definition, it is easy to see why many choreographers forgo the usual 5-6-7-8 style of counting for a more visceral "boom gank crack pow" cueing in class. The onomatopoeia is a much more insightful way to communicate the percussive nature that the choreographer is trying to achieve. This concept is best illustrated at (0:35-0:41) where you see a hand push, three shoulder hits, and an double elbow jab in succession. Each of these movements create a visual approximation of what you are hearing musically.

DANCER SYNC: From a dancer's perspective, any choreographer who can seamlessly construct moments of breath and release into the fabric of the piece, is greatly appreciated. Notice how Adam allows for certain moments where the hips are in an isolated rock (0:42-0:46) or the head ticks with precise subtlety (0:58-1:01) or complete stillness (1:43-1:53). Each of these choreographic choices represent a consideration for the dancers' need to breathe and recover, as well as creating dynamic tension for the audience.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Give and take, push and pull, contract and release...if you watch this piece carefully, you will notice how the PERCUSSIVE hits are only effective because they are framed by a smooth, almost sensual context. Adam's work is like an infinite yin yang relationship, every hit is followed by fluidly languid phrase that melts the dancers' bodies, only to awaken to another hit soon after. Yin is the feminine energy that you see between the hard aggressive pops, and the the Yang is masculine, dynamic energy that explodes into the percussive SMACK. Back and forth, the hits ebb and flow, transfixing the audience in a hypnotic loop.

KUDOS to Adam for beautifully demonstrating how non-auditory percussive movement can create tension and then skillfully resolving the sequence through contrasting tone and quality.

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