Revelations and a celebration

By Karen Campbell
Globe Correspondent / July 25, 2009

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CONCORD - For 10 years, David Parker has been bringing his talented company and irreverent choreography to Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy. It’s always a bit like a homecoming for the New York-based Parker (he was raised in Lynnfield), and at Thursday night’s anniversary celebration, a packed, enthusiastic audience contributed to the party-like atmosphere.

The evening was bookended by some of Parker’s most recent work, ending with the full “Show Down,’’ premiered locally in a charming cabaret show at the Rialto Restaurant during last year’s Summer Stages season. A frolicsome setting of selections from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun,’’ it is both parody and ode, full of show-biz posturing, sweeping ballet-meets-jazz lifts and turns, and wildly imaginative partnering, all leavened with wicked humor.

Opening the show were two short confections in a similar vein, a rollicking excerpt from “Wayfare’’ expanded from Lorraine Chapman’s solo into a quintet, and “Show Business,’’ given a dazzling performance by Jennifer Sydor. As she whips through fleet footwork and sharp fouettes, she dramatically basks in the spotlight, her gestures mimicking some of the sentiments of the lyrics.

In the middle of the program were three delightful revelations, including Parker’s breakthrough work that gave the company its name, “Bang.’’ Created in 1991 for himself and longtime dancer Jeffrey Kazin (and given an intense, dynamic performance by Kazin and Nic Petry in his debut in Parker’s role), it’s a brilliantly clever and entertaining tour-de-force tussle between two men set almost entirely on the floor. They roll and undulate, scooching along the floor, rears in the air. When they playfully engage, embraces pretzel into chokeholds, and moments of repose are interrupted by restless movement. The score consists of the rhythmic claps, smacks, bumps, bangs, finger snaps, and kisses that result.

Two of the dancers Parker scooped up from Summer Stages workshops, Concord Academy graduates Zack Winokur and Marissa Palley, presented a brief improvisation that effectively illuminated how Parker generates most of his movement phrases through isolated, ever-changing points of contact between dancers.

But the evening’s sweetest and most telling component was an excerpt from Petry’s film created for the choreographer’s 50th birthday. It featured Kazin and veteran dancer Amber Sloan offering anecdotes, appreciation, and reflections, providing a window into the company’s life and Parker’s personality (Kazin’s accolades include “excruciatingly loyal, annoyingly bright, stubborn, generous’’), plus performance bits and clips of Parker rehearsing in his apartment that allude to the scope of the choreographer’s talent.

In the end, we got Parker sharing the spotlight with Kazin in a song and competitive tap-dance routine to “An Old-Fashioned Wedding.’’ Delicious.

DAVID PARKER & THE BANG GROUP Presented by Summer Stages Dance

At: Concord Academy, Concord, Thursday night

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