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New Orleans Ballet Association presents Parsons Dance With Allen Toussaint & The Allen Toussaint Orchestra



April 24, 2014                                                     

Media Contact:

Sarah Chambless Federer
Gambel Communications                                                             (o) 504.324.4242 | (c) 985.373.5271


New Orleans Ballet Association presents

Parsons Dance With Allen Toussaint & The Allen Toussaint Orchestra

A One Night Only World Premiere Event!


Parsons Dance is "one of the hottest tickets in contemporary dance" - Toronto Star

"Allen Toussaint is the jewel in New Orleans's crown, not merely the most distinctive of soul songwriter/producers, but a virtuoso piano stylist with an unparalleled knowledge..." - Independent (London)

New Orleans, LA (April 21, 2014) - The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) closes its 2013-14 season with a very special, one-night-only world premiere event - Parsons Dance with the iconic Southern Knight Allen Toussaint & The Allen Toussaint Orchestra at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on Saturday, May 10 at 8 pm. The evening begins with four of choreographer and Artistic Director David Parsons' most critically-acclaimed class works, including Envelope, Swing Shift, Brothers and the show-stopping masterpiece Caught. The grand finale of the program will be a world premiere performance commissioned by NOBA as part of its ongoing initiative to pair world renowned choreographers with New Orleans musicians.

A World Premiere Grand Finale

New Orleans' native son and music legend Allen Toussaint and his orchestra of 12 extraordinary musicians will take the stage for a set highlighting the genius and artistry of Toussaint. Led by the renowned producer, composer, songwriter and pianist with honey-toned vocals, the orchestra includes veteran musicians on bass, drums, guitar, percussion, and horns plus backup singers. 

Parsons' company of ten fearless dancers will then join the orchestra on stage for the world premiere collaboration featuring a hand-crafted soundtrack of great Toussaint hits, including Southern Nights, Bright Mississippi, Goin' Down, Play Something Sweet and Yes We Can Can.

The brand new work is part of NOBA's ongoing, nationally-recognized Choreographer/NOLA Musician Commission Initiative that joins world renowned choreographers with local music icons. Past commissions have included the critically acclaimed pairings of Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) with Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2008 and 2010, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet with Nicholas Payton in 2012.

This initiative helps artists overcome key challenges in the creation process by providing financial, technical, and promotional support; space to create and perform the work; and the opportunity to collaborate with live music. Also, the initiative helps increase work and visibility for the artists, while enhancing the image of the region and the branding of New Orleans as an important contributor to the field of dance and music.

"The New Orleans Ballet Association believes that the creation of new work keeps American dance viable and a relevant part of the American arts legacy," said Jenny Hamilton, executive director of NOBA.

The Program

In addition to the world premiere, the evening features four of choreographer and Artistic Director David Parsons' most critically acclaimed classic works.

The famous stroboscopic solo Caught (1982) features a dancer defying gravity and flying above the stage who performs more than 100 leaps in less than six minutes. "It was simply one of the coolest things I have seen a real person do in real life, and the effect was beautiful" ( Caught has been performed hundreds of times, worldwide, for more than 28 years and was described by one critic as "one of the great pieces of recent times."

The comic classic hit, The Envelope (1984), with music by Rossini, costumes the dancers in black hoods and sunglasses, appearing like alien visitors from a strange planet as they endlessly pass around a lonely envelope. This humorous social commentary about loss of identity and individuality in quasi-efficient and highly ordered social structures is a "light-hearted take on the frustrations of bureaucratic paper-pushing that keeps the laughs coming" (The Tech).

The fast-paced Brothers (1982), set to Igor Stravinsky's Concertino for Twelve Instruments, is his fiercely athletic men's duet, created and originally performed by Parsons and his good friend (and dance brother) Danny Ezralow.

Celebrating dances popularized by mid-20th century sock hops and swing dances, Swing Shift (2003) is a bright and upbeat dance for four couples with original music by Kenji Bunch.

NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance Participation

In a rare opportunity for youth, a cast of eight students ages 13-18 of the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance pre-professional program will perform alongside Parsons veteran dancer and Metairie native Abby Gavezzoli in the debut of work choreographed by Parsons to Toussaint's famous "Yes We Can Can."  This work was created specifically for them by Parsons through a residency supported by the Chevron Master Artist Series, which provides Center for Dance students the incredible opportunity at a young age to study and perform with world-renowned guest artists and broaden their understanding of dance and music.

"The Chevron Master Artist Series works to bring world-class artists together with local talent," said Sakari Morrison, general manager of Chevron public affairs. "We support this program because we believe that showcasing local talent is vital to the economic and cultural sustainability of this region."

Tickets range from $20-$80 and may be purchased through the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at (504) 522-0996 or online at, and through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups. All audience members are invited to join Artistic Director David Parsons at 7:15 p.m. upstairs on the Mezzanine, Level M2, of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for a pre-performance talk

The world premiere has been commissioned by the New Orleans Ballet Association with generous support from Kerry Clayton and Paige Royer. Parsons Dance with Allen Toussaint & The Allen Toussaint Orchestra is also sponsored in part by Chevron through the Chevron Master Artists Series; a Community Partnership Grant from The Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Inc. and is welcomed by WWOZ.  American Airlines is the official airline of the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is the official hotel.

About Parsons Dance

Parsons Dance is an internationally renowned contemporary dance company under the artistic direction of David Parsons. Founded in 1985 by David Parsons and Tony award-winning lighting designer, Howell Binkley, Parsons Dance is known for its upbeat, athletic, ensemble work. The company has toured to more than 350 cities in 30 countries, across five continents, including an annual season in its home community of New York City. Parsons Dance maintains a repertory of more than 70 works choreographed by David Parsons, including commissions from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey, BatSheva, Jacob's Pillow and the Spoleto Festival. Audiences have also seen Parsons Dance on PBS, Bravo, A&E and the Discovery Channel. In addition to choreography and performance, Parsons Dance is committed to audience development and arts education for participants of all ages and all levels of artistic experience.  Parsons Dance regularly offers outreach opportunities including post-show discussions, master classes, open rehearsals and studio showcases. Parsons Dance offers annual summer study programs for professional and pre-professional dancers that attract students to New York from across the United States and several foreign countries.


About the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA)

NOBA is the Central Gulf region's premiere presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance.  NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists.  Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 30,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages.  In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with over 5,000 free dance classes and workshops annually at ten sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area. 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the NEA, a Federal agency; a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans, and is administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans (ACNO); and a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and is administered through ACNO.

Editor's Note: Digital images are available by request through Sarah Chambless Federer at or 504.324.4242. Please only use show-approved images. Additional artist bios are also available by request.