Choreographer David Parsons wants everybody who comes to see performances by his contemporary dance company to feel at home. That’s especially true for those who attend the sensory friendly programs his company creates for those on the autism spectrum and others with sensitivity to noise or sound. “It’s really about giving the opportunity for a family that is dealing with autism to take a moment to feel the magic of the theater with their child,” Parsons said. “It’s a family outing.” Parsons Dance first started doing sensory-friendly shows at its home space in New York and is now doing them on the road. The company’s current 19-city tour holds five sensory-friendly performances, including one in San Antonio.
It marks the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts’ first offering expressly designed for those with special needs. “We decided this was a great way for us to start our accessibility program,” said Kendall Purpura, vice president of development and education for the Tobin Center. Some aspects of the performance will be familiar to those who have attended sensory-friendly shows elsewhere, including Magik Theatre, which is going into its second season of offering the programming. House lights won’t be taken all the way down, as they are for most performances, and the sound will be dialed back. Rather than being shushed and told to stay in their seats, audience members will be able to do whatever is comfortable for them.