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On the spot with Miranda and Marissa Parker

Last week’s UNH Dance Company concert consisted of two very diverse performances; an adaptation of “Cinderella” for ballet, and a Jazz, Tap and Aerial (JTA) performance of “Ooh, La Paree!” Among the highlights of the JTA performance was a mesmerizing duet by twin sisters Miranda and Marissa Parker, both juniors at UNH.

“Miranda and I are very close and have a great relationship,” Marissa said. “We love to dance together because we have a great connection. I would not want to have another dance partner because we complement each other so well.”

The sisters’ feature performance in “Ooh, La Paree!” centered on a lyra duet, where they perform in an aerial apparatus consisting of a giant circle hoop in the air. The sisters practiced this challenging act at least three days a week leading up to the performance.

“Performing on lyra requires great flexibility and strength, and the twins worked tirelessly to bring their strength level up to match their natural flexibility,” choreographer Gay Nardone said. “The twins have a passion for dance both on the ground and in the air. They have a good kinesthetic sense and work tirelessly to give the best performance possible.”

The Parker sisters grew up in Weare, New Hampshire, both joining the UNH Dance Company as freshmen. Though they chose different majors (Marissa with economics and Miranda with nutrition), both sisters are minoring in dance.

“We started to take classes at 4 years old, but my mom always observed that we would dance whenever commercials would come on the TV,” Miranda said. “So then when I was 4 years old, I joined my first dance class, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Although the sisters perform all styles of dance, they both consider jazz, tap, and aerial to be their specialty.

“Tap is making sounds with your feet and having it rhythmically fit with the music. And aerial is obviously like flying in the air,” Marissa said. “I feel more free when I do those styles of dance. Whereas [with ballet], you don’t have as much freedom to express yourself.”

“On the ground, Miranda and Marissa excel in contemporary jazz,” dance instructor Mary Marino said. “They also connect so well together. Their timing is impeccable and they truly feel the music. They always perform at 100 percent.”

The sisters acknowledged that performing with an aerial apparatus was initially challenging due to the fact that there wasn’t a lot of space to fit two people. However, the twins credit their natural chemistry with each other for helping them overcome any obstacles.

“We just feel each other,” Marissa said. “We have a special connection when we dance on stage together. Like emotionally and physically, we can feel each other’s energies. So like we know when to transition to the next step.”

Given both sisters’ love and passion for dance, it isn’t surprising they both intend to keep dance in their futures, whether professionally or just for fun. The twins already teach dance at Concord Dance Academy, and they don’t see that passion ever going away.

“Dance will always be involved in my life somehow,” Marissa said. “I don’t know to what extent, whether I’m a dance teacher or a performer, but I’ll always have that passion and love of dance.”

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