How Jason Parsons Gets Dancers to Feel Comfortable with Improvisation

Photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy of Parsons

Jason Parsons began his professional career dancing for artists like Diana King and Celine Dion, for Disney and in countless industrials, but he soon realized his real interest was in the world of concert dance. Since then, he's performed with companies like River North Dance Company and Mia Michaels' RAW, and he has choreographed for Houston's METdance, Rasta Thomas' Bad Boys of Dance and others around the world. Having turned his attention to improvisational studies, he's bringing those experiences to dancers around the country with NUVO Dance Convention.


Parsons generally begins his improvisation classes with a conversation to help students feel at ease in the space they're going to explore. “It's a new experience for some of the students, and I want to get them moving in ways they've never even considered before, but I want them to feel comfortable," he says. “I have the students form a big circle so we have a huge, surrounded space, and then we begin moving inside of it, in groups. I always have a group of people on the exterior supporting and watching. They get to witness and also partake."

When it comes to music, Parsons likes to change it up, varying the sound from ambient classical tunes to house music, but not songs that students will likely recognize. It's during unfamiliar songs that some of his favorite moments happen. “I often play something very abstract, because I love seeing movement bring sound into the space," he says. “Instead of just trying to connect to the music, we actually begin to create it with our bodies."

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