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Kerry Clawson, Akron Beacon Journal  |  October 16, 2019

Parsons pros explore joy, athleticism of dance with UA students

By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal/
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at 10:39 PMUpdated Oct 10, 2019 at 12:36 PM

Parsons Dance professionals stressed the joy and freedom of dance Monday as they kicked off a weeklong residency teaching at the University of Akron dance program.

Monday morning, the New York-based company taught simultaneous classes in contemporary ballet and Parsons technique in studios at Guzzetta Hall. Zoey Anderson taught a high-energy technique class to advanced modern students, leading 11 dancers to the cool rhythms of UA graduate student Fabian Michael on bongo drums.

The movement was full of curved arms, sweeping the floor with head and arms down and stretching upward and outward toward the ceiling. The ever-smiling Anderson, a featured soloist with the company, described a small jump and a kick as “kick the soccer ball” and another move as “we go around the table, we pull the cloth.”

After many repetitions, she walked among the students, encouraging them: “You know it, so relax and do it.”

After she and company member Henry Steele demonstrated a fast-tempoed combination together in a diagonal across the floor, they urged each pair of students to make a connection, too.

After the students went through their last run-through in pairs, Steele told them they had developed a “more calm and natural presence.”

He stressed “finding that joy and the natural feeling of it [the choreography] right away so you can enjoy it.”

Parsons Dance is teaching all of UA’s dance classes through Friday as part of an annual teaching residency through DanceCleveland. The eight-member contemporary dance company will end the week with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall.

Next door, in ballet class, Parsons member Eoaghan Dillon led five students through work at the barre.

“How liberating should a grand battement feel? For me , a grand battement is liberation — it’s like I MADE it,” he said of the exercise at the barre lifting the leg to hip level or higher.

Later, as he led them through a ballet combination, he asked: “Why aren’t you smiling? It feels good!”

Back in technique class, senior Tiffany Campbell of Findlay was happy with her first Parsons class: “I think the biggest thing today was the energy. I think there was a lot of athletic movement.”

Anderson and Steele, who said they enjoy the open-mindedness and hunger of college students, saw their class transform Monday.

“It was like an understanding of the movements and just the energy level. They were looking at each other, they were more free in that space,” Anderson said.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or


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