Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dance Review: Through “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” Complexions Moves Us- Now Celebrating 15 Years!

Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Photography by Jae Man Joo Complexions Contemporary Ballet presents a program of crowd-pleasers.  Dubbed the “15th Anniversary Medley # 1: A collection of audience favorites,” the program shows off the variety of repertoire the company has accumulated.  With beautifully constructed physiques the dancers articulate artistic abstractions.  Exhilarating, daring athleticism is displayed by the dancers whose superb skillfulness is masked in a feeling of spontaneity.

The first work on the program predates the founding of Complexions in 1994, appropriately titled, “Growth” (1991), the piece portrays an individual striving for self development, searching for substance in the space surrounding him.  Here dancer Gary W. Jeter II attacks each movement in a conquest for truth, expressing the 15th anniversary season’s theme of “Love, Sweat, Tears.”

“Momentary Forevers” (2007, Excerpt) is a fierce pas de deux with Natiya Kezevadze and Juan Rodriguez in futuristic citrusy orange costumes by Christine Darch.  The cursive choreography by Dwight Rhoden expresses deep sentimentality of the dual’s permeate and fleeting qualities of romantic relationships.

“Gone” (2000) is a highlight of the show, with amazing virtuoso performances by Cifford Williams, Philip John Orsano, and Edgar Anido.  A powerful dance of masculinity and strife, the dancers’ toned bodies soulfully sculpt space and time. 

Like a Broadway classic, “Showman’s Groove” (2005) plays to the audience as the duo Joo Hwan Cho and Christina Dooling physically flirt through challenging turns and high kicks finished off with jazz hands and dazzling smiles.

Only the FIERCE Dancers Apply! “Fall” (2008) is the one piece choreographed by Desmond Richardson on the program and is less dramatic than its title suggests.  The costumes by Epperson are interesting- long skirts with satin panels reminiscent of stained glass cut short in the front to show off the dancer’s legs.  Natalia Alonso, Patricia Hachey, and Wendy White Sasser dance wonderfully together, none outshining the other.

“Ave Maria” (1995) is a must-see piece and a must-have for a program of audience favorites.  Set to lovely operatic tones, the complex contemporary pas de deux is executed masterfully by dancers Hiroko Sakakibara and Simon Silva.  Certainly a favorite, the audience cheered like fans at a football game mid-ballet, and my dancer friend turned to me to ask, “Where’s my popcorn and beer?” 

Following intermission, Rise (2008) features multiple songs by the pop sensation U2, with pop/rock-star choreography to match.  With moments of brilliance, some of the choreography reminds me of recital dances, with dancers in simple lines and performing predictable cannons of movements. Most disappointing is that the song “Beautiful Day” is used merely for bows, though at this point the audience is standing, cheering enthusiastically. 

After 15 successful developing years I must admit, well done.  Complexions has succeeded in developing a unique culturally viable identity within the New York City landscape that has permeating influences in the world of dance through its advancement of contemporary ballet.

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Official Dance Review by Lea McGowan
Performance: Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Choreography: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson
Venue: The Joyce Theater, New York City
Performance Date: Sunday November 22, 2009

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