Thursday, June 14, 2007


New Company ‘Dances Organically’ onto the Urban Stage
By Robert Waddell

In the last year dancer Marcia Parilla has performed in garden and in open air fountains finding a connection between natural movement and nature. She allowed a friend to videotape her and she came up with the idea for her own dance company, “Danza Organica.” Today, Parilla, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, brings modern to the most basic, the pastoral setting. In nature, she said, is where movement was perfected, Native Americans and Africans all danced outside.

“While dancing outside,” said Parrilla, “I found it to be a very centering experience and all of my senses were activated and I found a lot of beautiful true movement.”

With a recent performance in June and another one in August in New York City, Parilla’s ten-member dance company brings Martha Graham-type of interpretations to an organic natural setting.

“The work that we do is from the inside out,” she said. “We let go of preconceived notions of how we’re supposed to be and I like to say that we ‘deconstruct in order to reconstruct’ and then the true movement comes out of that.”

Parilla has a dancer’s robust posture. She rejects currents stands of beauty, opting for a fresh, open luster. For a dancer, how one stands silent is as important as how one moves. Parilla is grace personified with natural hair, little make-up and no dieting.

“The way that I move is not salsa or samba dancing so there is getting rid of what your supposed to be in order for the true movement come out,” she said.

It may seem unstructured, she said, but it comes from the dancer’s interpretation of nature and their environment. Parrilla’s efforts can be compared to Bronx choreographer Arthur Aviles’ invention of swift flow. Things may seem improvised but in fact the dances are well-organized works of art.

“I still train, but I’m in the process,” she said. “I’m very careful about implementing the things that I know that I’m trained in. It’s kind of a way for dancers to discover within themselves with a deep connection to their environment.”

Parrilla stills works to put her company together with 10 dancers from Puerto Rico, Iran, Thailand and the United States. She’s looking for more male dancers.

“I wanted to have a cast of dancers that are from different cultures from around the world. I want us to reach out to as many people as possible,” she said.

Parrilla said that the term “natural environment” was tricky especially as applied to her dance. She’s looking for dance movements that arise in connection with nature but she said that the environment changes. The environment could be buildings. One's environment can serve as a pallet or a backdrop for dancers to draw movement and ideas for performance.

The company’s first performance was in early June in New York City. Parrilla said that dancing outside was liberating. In a studio, there are bars, mirrors, wooden floors.

She held auditions and chose performers. The first performances will be inside but inspired by the organic world.

Parrilla stimulates her dancer’s curiosity to learn, explore, challenge themselves and create from the world around them. For example, if some dancer were to create a dance around the ideas of the Plaza de Mayo, then those ideas would show respect to the historical value to the mothers of Argentina, she said.

“We work with elements like humanity, the environment, political and social issues as well as sharing our dancing ability,” she said.

Parrilla provokes her dancers to create sequences out of movement, classic dance, body weight, space, negative space and their imaginations. The world around them becomes their canvas and the ink in which to actualize formed structured dances. The dances have direction but during the creation of those dances, improvisation is used and molded into formalized dance structures.

“This comes from all of the dancer’s energy so that they can all feel a part of this new creation,” said Parrilla. “Dance to me is a reflection of society. If I were doing a dance about Argentina, I would incorporate the tango and if in Puerto Rico, the plena. Those things need to be there because we have to keep our ancestry present.”

Marsha Parrilla and her company “Danza Organica” will be performing in lower Manhattan at Far Space in August.

Robert Waddell is a Bronx-based freelance writer and a contributing writer to Puerto Rico Sun.
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