Veteran choreographer Margot Parsons rarely goes for flash or dazzle. Her ballet-based choreography revels in formal clarity rather than provocative statements, innovative moves, or clever tricks. The pleasure in her work is the visual satisfaction of sweeping turns, luxurious stretches, and leaps that extend the body into long, clean lines, all counterbalanced by the modern dancer's grounded focus.
The drawback is that without distinctive context, many of the works have the same even-tempered feel. They tend to be distinguished more by the music than by the choreography itself. Thankfully, Parsons has an innate musicality and eclectic tastes, which helped lend variety to last weekend's concert of new and recent works, ``Sweeping Pools of Time."
The title dance, set to a score of chiming bells and drones, was a lovely duet between Rebecca Bromberg Polan and Daisy Giunta. Each had compelling solos of elegant leaps, swinging turns, and breathless suspensions. When the two joined, they swept through the space as if defying the passage of time before ultimately giving in to it. Bodies hunched, their arms slowly rocked back and forth like the pendulum on a clock.
In ``Terra Cotta," Dug Dineen's percussion score propelled more angular, edgy movements. With bent arms set out from the shoulders, the dancers had a two-dimensional look, like figures from an Egyptian urn exploding to life. The quartet ``Etude" played off the romantic lyricism of Liszt but felt like an extended student routine. ``Not Near the Earth" was similarly generic but pretty, with stunning patterning that sent the five dancers spiraling toward and away from one another. The program also included Angelina Lin's lyrical ``Till We Have Faces."
Unfortunately, the evening's one world premiere, ``And So It Goes," was less distinguished by the music than overwhelmed by it. With its catchy modal melodies and lively rhythms, Evan Ziporyn's delightful ``Be-In" for strings and bass clarinet was more captivating and cohesive than Parsons's evocation of the four elements.
The most moving work on the program was a collaboration between five of the area's most eloquent mature dancers, ``Still Time," conceived and directed by Judith Chaffee. Rocking chairs served as props symbolizing acceptance and defiance as each of the dancers cut loose in expressive solos accompanied by reflective, age-related text collages.
Chaffee spoke of age bringing clarity, insight, and lowered expectations. Parsons recalled simply, ``I have always wanted to dance." Ramelle Adams reflected on motherhood, and Micki Taylor-Pinney wondered, ``Am I a workaholic?" Ann Brown Allen, whose multiple knee surgeries have compromised her physical edge but not her heart, grappled with denial: ``I've chosen a career that nurtures my spirit but is unsuitable for my body." Charming and sweet, ``Still Time" was powerfully resonant.