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Flash Review 2, 1-4: Serious Fun
Banging it up with Parker and Crew

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2001 Maura Nguyen Donohue

NEW YORK -- David Parker and the Bang Group make funny work. And I consider that no small feat in the realm of modern dance. Especially when clever wit is equally met with studied, yet wholly original, craftsmanship. In early December Parker brought his inventive brand of toe-shoe tap to Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church. My only regret about this concert is that it'll be long over by the time you read this Flash.

The Bang Group was founded by Parker, Jeffrey Kazin and Kathryn Tufano to prove that serious comic dance is not an oxymoron. The company has raised humor in movement into the concert forum without losing any artistic value or integrity. I don't feel like I have to dumb down in order to enjoy some kind of physical ribaldry, nor am I cynically snickering along to insider-oriented absurdity. Parker, Kazin and Tufano are all righteous artists, fantastic dancers and endearing performers. They bring moments of levity to the surface through skillful execution of meticulously choreographed material. Parker brings his background in tap to a new level of rhythm-study by smacking it right upside the head with ballet and post-modern aesthetics. At the same time, he manages to throw in enough equal opportunity gender-bending and blatant sexual situations to make the seemingly light work truly subversive.

"On the Tip of My Tongue" opens the program with the three performers lying on the floor in shoulder stands with their legs in the air. We see pink tutus and pointe shoes while enjoying the score of syncopated toe-shoe tapping mingled with delightful bursts of harmonica. "Critical Mass" was choreographed and originally performed by Sara Hook and Parker. But to see Kazin in this work you'd think it was made for him. During an all to brief solo outburst Kazin confirms what any Bang Group newcomer would have begun suspecting: This dancer is a master of his art. The ease that he shares with Parker's distinctive movement vocabulary is testimony to his long history with the Bang Group. Kazin has been banging around with Parker and Tufano for over ten years. I am thankful for the chance to watch an obviously gifted dancer reveal to an audience the depth of understanding and artistry a long-term collaboration offers.

"Bound Edition" is a costume-driven work created with designers Melanie Rozema and Jeroen Teunissen. The striking Tufano rips and whips her way through a fierce solo. She is a strong technician who carries the mantle of fiery babe in this tightly knit trio of performers. Parker and Kazin stick and rip their way through a duet in black Velcro suits. Vague memories of frat house Velcro jumping dance through my subconscious as I giggle to see Kazin literally stuck to Parker.

"Enough," to music by Rachmaninoff, closes the program with a masterful meeting of the classical and the comedic. Parker's forays into rhythm and pace result in exquisite dancing and wickedly funny moments.

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