ANNIE-B PARSON (choreographer and director)
Annie-B Parson co-founded Big Dance Theater in 1991 with Molly Hickok and Paul Lazar. She has choreographed and co-created over 20 works for the company, ranging from pure dance pieces, to adaptations of found text, plays, and literature, to original works combining wildly disparate materials. Her work with Big Dance has been commissioned by The Old Vic/London, Les Subsistances in France, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The National Theater of Paris/Chaillot, The Japan Society, The Walker Art Center, The Kitchen, and many other theaters.
Outside of Big Dance, Ms. Parson has created choreography for opera, pop musicians, television, movies, theater, ballet, marching bands, and symphonies. Most recently, Parson choreographed David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway. Parson also choreographed one thousand singers for a work by David Lang at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. Other work includes David Byrne’s musical Here Lies Love at both the Public Theater and The National Theater in London; David Byrne’s 2012 world tour with St. Vincent and a marching band; Byrne’s 2008 Brian Eno world tour, and many of his television appearances including Jimmy Fallon, Colbert and others. She also created the choreography for St. Vincent 2014 world tour, as well as her performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, her appearance in the David Lynch festival, the Hollywood Bowl, her world tour of Mass Seduction 2018, and on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel. Parson has two large scale works in repertory at The Martha Graham Dance Company, and she created a solo for Wendy Whelan commissioned by the Royal Ballet. Her dances are featured in the film Ride, Roar, Rise about David Byrne, among others. Her work for theater, opera and film includes choreography for the David Bowie/Ivo Van Hove’s Lazarus at New York Theatre Workshop, which performed in Amsterdam, London, and NY. Also, she made dances for Jonathan Demme movie Ricki and the Flash, Nico Muhly’s opera Dark Sisters, and such plays as Lucas Hnath’s Walt Disney at Soho Rep, In the Blood by Suzan Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, Futurity at ART, as well as a large-scale work for the string quartet ETHEL.
Her awards include the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2014), an Olivier Award nomination in choreography (2015), Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2014), USA Artists Grant in theater (2012), Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography (2007), two BESSIE awards (2010, 2002), and three NYFA Choreography Fellowships (2013, 2006 and 2000). Big Dance Theater received an OBIE (2000) and the first Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award (2007). Parson has been nominated for the CalArts/Alpert Award seven times and has received three Lucille Lortel nominations (2014, 2012, 2011). She was a YCC choreographer at The American Dance Festival. She received the FRANKY award with Paul Lazar.
Her recent book, Drawing the Surface of Dance: A Biography in Charts is published by Wesleyan Press. Her 2016 book on choreography: Dance by Letter, is published by 53rd State Press. Parson has also produced a deck of cards on the subject of the elements of composition.
Since 1993 Parson has been an instructor of choreography at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing. She has taught widely including at Ballet Rambert, Yale, and Princeton. She was featured in BOMB magazine, and has written articles for Ballet Review, Movement Research Journal, and drawing for The Brooklyn Rail, as well as a piece for Dance USA on the state of dance/theater in the U.S. and given a talk on the use of Poetic Forms in adapting text at the Poetry Center. As an artist-curator, she has curated shows including Merce Cunningham’s memorial We Give Ourselves Away at Every Moment, Dancer Crush at NYLA and Sourcing Stravinsky at DTW. Parson tours a lecture on abstraction called The Virtuosity of Structure to universities and for audience development.
Paul Lazar is a founding member, along with Annie-B Parson, of Big Dance Theater. He has directed, co-directed, and acted in works for Big Dance since 1991, including commissions from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, Classic Stage Company, and Japan Society. In 2017 Paul premiered a solo piece called Cage Shuffle (text by John Cage, choreography Annie-B Parson), at the American Realness Festival in New York. He has subsequently toured Cage Shuffle throughout the United States and Europe. https://www.cageshuffle.com
In Fall 2020 he created a duet version of Cage Shuffle with Choreographer/Dancer Bebe Miller for the Wexner Center For The Arts. The Cage Shuffle Duet toured to the Cena Festival in Brasilia, Brazil in December of 2020.
Outside of Big Dance, Paul has directed numerous productions including Young Jean Lee’s Obie Award-winning, “We’re Gonna Die. A version of We’re Gonna Die featuring David Byrne premiered at the Meltdown Festival in London in 2015. Paul also directed Bodycast: An Artist Lecture by Suzanne Bocanegra and featuring Frances McDormand at the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2014 ; He directed Major Bang for The Foundry Theatre at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Paul has performed in the following works by The Wooster Group: Brace Up!, Emperor Jones, North Atlantic, and The Hairy Ape. Other stage acting credits include Tamburlaine at Theatre For A New Audience, Young Jean Lee’s Lear, The Three Sisters at Classic Stage Company, Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians at Soho Rep, Richard III at Classic Stage Company, Svejk at Theatre for a New Audience, Irene Fornes’ Mud at the Signature Theater and at Mabou Mines, and Mac Wellman’s 1965 UU. He has acted in over 40 feature films, including Snowpiercer, The Host, Mickey Blue Eyes, Silence of the Lambs, Beloved, Lorenzo’s Oil and Philadelphia. His awards include two Bessies (2010, 2002), the Jacob’s Pillow Creativity Award in 2007, and the Prelude Festival’s Frankie Award in 2014, as well as an Obie Award for Big Dance in 2000. Paul currently teaches at New York University. He has also taught at Yale, Rutgers, The William Esper Studio, and The Michael Howard Studio.
ELIZABETH DEMENT (lead artist)
Elizabeth DeMent is a New York based performer originally from Ukiah, CA. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School, and has been working as a dancer/performer/actor ever since. She has worked with Peridance Ensemble, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Liz Gerring Dance Company, Stephen Petronio, Jodi Melnick, Patrick Corbin, Dance Heginbotham, Christina Masciotti, Half-Straddle, and Big Dance Theater. Elizabeth is proud to have worked extensively as associate choreographer to Annie-b Parson on several projects including Here Lies Love, St. Vincent’s Digital Witness Tour, and David Byrne’s American Utopia Tour. This year, Elizabeth won a Bessie Award for her outstanding performance in Big Dance’s 17c presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in November 2017.
MOLLY HICKOK (co-founder)
MOLLY HICKOK is a founding member of Big Dance Theater, creating roles in such works as The Other Here, Comme Toujours Here I Stand, Supernatural Wife and Ich Kurbisgeist. She was honored with a BESSIE in 2005 for her work with Big Dance, and again in 2010 as part of the Comme Toujours creative team. She has appeared in several Jonathan Demme films, including Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married.