Flavorwire Required Viewing: Parsons Dance’s Remember Me

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We’re still trying to catch our breath after last night’s performance of Remember Me, a stunning rock opera/modern dance piece that premiered to a packed house at The Joyce Theater. The work is a collaboration between Parsons Dance and East Village Opera Company, whose music is a mash-up of opera arias and rock, pop, R&B and soul.

Remember Me combines dance, music, video and digital visual effects to tell the story of (spoiler alert!) a tragic love triangle: Boy loves girl; girl loves boy; boy’s evil brother also loves girl; boy’s evil brother kidnaps girl and locks her in a cage; everyone dies at the end.

It’s all very dark and dramatic and loud, and filled with hypnotic visions — from a backdrop of swirling flowers to a human chain whose undulating arms make trippy shapes that reflect in mirror images on a screen. One highlight among many is a dreamy aerial dance sequence set to Delibes’ “Flower Duet”, in which the girl, Marie, floats and twirls in a weightless pas de deux with her beloved.

The most interesting part about the production is that, rather than simply providing the music, EVOC lead vocalists Tyley Ross (also the group’s co-founder) and AnnMarie Milazzo share the stage with the dancers and become part of the action as they sing. At first we found this conceit a bit distracting — as good as the dancing was, it was hard to take our eyes off Ross and Milazzo, whose stage presence is as powerful as their voices. But as the piece went on the seams disappeared, and the singers transformed into the dancers’ vocal avatars, while the dancers in turn embodied the words and music.

We left the theater in a daze, wishing we could go back in and make them do the whole thing again. As it happens, they will be doing it again, through January 18, in addition to a second program that includes Parson’s 1982 classic Caught.

Credit: ©2008 Lois Greenfield

Credit: ©2008 Lois Greenfield

Credit: ©2008 Lois Greenfield