Symmetrical Lives

In Symmetrical Lives, music is seen as well as heard. The two performers are world-class musicians who dance while they play, bringing a new perspective to music that is almost 300 years old.

Flutist Zara Lawler, violinist Maja Cerar and choreographer C. Neil Parsons created Symmetrical Lives as a site-specific modern take on J. S. Bach’s beautiful Orchestral Suite in B Minor. The choreography explores both musical and physical ideas of balance and imbalance, equality and inequality, symmetry and asymmetry, isolation and togetherness, what is hidden and what is revealed. Bach’s exquisite music is presented in a new arrangement by Lawler and Cerar that favors these choreographic choices, where intricate entwining of the musical voices can be reflected in the intimate entwining of the dancer’s bodies.

At once thoughtful and playful, timely and timeless, Symmetrical Lives reflects the arc of the COVID-19 pandemic, while inclining toward physical and artistic liberation. The first movement was shot in two separate apartment spaces, referencing the isolation of Zoom meetings, the second in a New York City park with both performers in the same space but never quite meeting. The following movements progress through locations that become more rural and open, even as the dancer-musicians come physically and musically closer to each other. The final movement accelerates the action to a surprising conclusion.

  • C. Neil Parsons
    October Surprise
  • Zara Lawler
  • Maja Cerar
    Key Cast
    "Solo violin and dance"
  • Zara Lawler
    Key Cast
    "Solo flute and dance"
  • Maja Cerar
  • Zara Lawler
  • C. Neil Parsons
  • Rebecca Fischer
    Additional Musicians
  • Colin Brookes
    Additional Musicians
  • Alexis Pia Gerlach
    Additional Musicians
  • Jeanne Velonis
    Sound Engineer and Editor
  • Greg Jukes
    Video Editor
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Music Video, Short, Other
  • Genres:
    Dance, Music, Performance, Classical, Baroque, Modern Dance, Suite, First-time filmmaker, site-specific
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 24 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 5, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • National Flute Association Annual Convention
    United States
    August 15, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection (Closing Ceremonies)
  • MetLiveArts: Balcony Bar from Home
    New York, NY
    United States
    October 29, 2021
    Official Selection
Director Biography - C. Neil Parsons

C. Neil Parsons is a bass trombonist, dancer/choreographer, and actor/director, best-known for blending his talents in new interdisciplinary works, particularly with his hybrid arts ensemble The Fourth Wall. Extensive touring has taken him to 40 states, with appearances at performing arts centers, festivals, schools, university residencies, and with symphony orchestras. He has directed numerous productions, from Shakespeare to contemporary plays, for interdisciplinary and experimental ensembles such as Tales&Scales, Lawler+Fadoul, Early Music in Motion, SputterBox, Strange Trace, Windfall Dancers, and the Bloomington Playwrights Project.

Neil is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory of Music (where he declared an individual major in Interdisciplinary Performance & Education), and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he is an Instructor of Theater for the Conservatory’s Contemporary Theater BFA Program.

Other film credits include Greg Nahabedian’s punk rock opera October Surprise, produced & performed by Strange Trace opera company.

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