Complexions Contemporary Ballet shows off signature virtuosity

ZITA ALLEN | 11/16/2017, 1:01 p.m.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company swept into the Joyce Theater this week for a two-week run, with three different programs performed ...
"Star Dust" Ani Collier photo

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company swept into the Joyce Theater this week for a two-week run, with three different programs performed by dancers whose trademark virtuosity has been known to leave audiences swooning, and with dances, set to an eclectic range of music, that promise to titillate the senses and satisfy the soul.

Launched in 1994 by two exquisite dancers who, at the time, were members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson—Complexions’ debut was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd that formed lines around the block to witness this then new and exciting addition to the dance world. Over the course of a quarter of a century, Complexions has continued to thrill audiences as these extraordinary dancers explode onstage testing the limits of their signature athleticism, virtuosity and passion in a diverse

array of ballets.

This season, Complexions hopes not to disappoint with three programs featuring four premieres and the return of a few audience favorites, including two full company works: “Gutter Glitter” and “Star Dust.” “Gutter Glitter” by choreographer Dwight Rhoden, simultaneously edgy and soft, is part of the company’s ongoing initiative designed to present new works in a visual collage format that seeks to find commonality within diverse elements. “Star Dust,” also by Rhoden, brought audiences to their feet last season. Rhoden has described “Star Dust” as “a love note” and tribute to the genre-bending innovation of one of the most prolific rock stars of all time, David Bowie. Built around a number of Bowie’s hits, the dance’s energy captures the performer’s unique persona and restless artistic invention.

In an interview with the Amsterdam News, Complexions’ co-founder Richardson discussed these works and several new short works that will be premiered during the Joyce season, including Rhoden’s “Duo” in which a quartet of dancers examine the brisk and complex nature of the composition as the music’s velocity propels them through space. Also on the program is Israeli choreographer Ido Tadmore’s “Postponed Conversations” set to Schumann’s “Symphonic Edutes, Op. 13.” Richardson said this dance, by a friend whose choreography is beautiful, “contains a duet that captures the anguish of a couple confronted with the profound emotions behind unspoken words.”

Then there is young choreographer Dee Caspary’s work, “Summertime,” set to Gershwin’s heartrending classic of the same name sung by Annie Lennox. Richardson described Caspary as a product of the convention world. Explaining his excitement for the convention world, Richardson said, “It is populated by young dancers whose technique is very strong and who are bound for some of the top dance schools in the country.”

He adds that “that world features a kind of hyper athleticism and even commercialism but it is a blend of the best of all of dance styles. It is really are quite diverse. While it reflects a diversity of dance from ballet, to modern, to postmodern, hip-hop and more, Dwight and I are pushing these young dancers to go beyond hip-hop because you have to have your ballet technique together so you can have a form, then, from there, you can do any style of dance that you want. I’m very turned on and inspired by these young people.”

Speaking of being turned on, whether audiences are drawn to the glitz, glitter or gutsy display of polished technique and youthful energy, those venturing to the Joyce Theatre between November 14 – 26 are bound to be thrilled by the Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Visit www.joyce.org and www.joyce.org for more info.