NEW@GRAHAM: ANNIE B PARSON

Xiaochuan Xie in Annie-B Parson's The Snow Falls in the Winter. Photo by Brigid Pierce.

Xiaochuan Xie in Annie-B Parson’s The Snow Falls in the Winter. Photo by Brigid Pierce.

Annie B Parson’s new work for the Martha Graham Dance Company had an in-studio showing on Wednesday, December 17th. I find Parson’s work fascinating and exciting and I admire the diverse breadth of her career. Her new collaboration with the Graham company, The Snow Falls in Winter provides a unique theatrical experience, the likes of which are rare and elusive.

Using Ionesco’s play The Lesson as source material, the piece finds the absurd, magical, and melancholy potential within the acts of teaching and learning. Working with the glorious dancers in the Graham company allows Parson to realize movement that is as full and weighted as the text and score. Highlights of this piece include the captivating Carrie Elmore-Tallitsch dancing her way eloquently around a mic cord between her spoken intervals, Lauren Newman as an commanding and irritated maid, and XiaoChuan Xie as the student. The statuesque Natasha Diamond-Walker and accomplished Tadej Brdnik round out this sophisticated cast.

Particularly beautiful is the final moment of the piece in which a dancer sits on a small chair, facing upstage as the dancers in front of her act out her teaching in silence as the lights fade. Looking forward to seeing how this work develops and having another look at the Joyce in February.

Annie B at Martha Graham: http://marthagraham.org/annie-b-parson/

Annie B’s Big Dance Theater: http://www.bigdancetheater.org/

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Recommended Reading: Valerie Steele “Fashion and Eroticism: Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age”

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Valerie Steele reshapes and recontextualizes ideals of feminine beauty and it’s reciprocal relationship to fashion, highlighting the erotic origin of both. A critical analysis of Victorian dress, society, and sexuality opens up new ideas concerning all three. Primarily, Steele obliterates the idea of the prudish Victorian era through carefully documented research and deft use of critical theory regarding the use of the corset. She radically revises our understanding of women’s clothing from the 1830’s into the 1930’s. Passages on the sexual origin of beauty, shifting erogenous zones of the body throughout history, details of the corset, and the genesis of modern “underwear” are fascinating. A wonderful and rich resource for scholars interested the cultural construction of embodied identity, I’m sure I’ll return to this text in the future.

Watch Valerie’s astute and fascinating thoughts on the corset and the cultural phenomenon of fashion: