Complexions was created by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden in 1994. Richardson was formerly with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and American Ballet Theater, where he performed the lead role in the company’s premiere of “Othello.”
Rhoden, who is the company choreographer, also danced with Alvin Ailey as well as several other companies but is known now for his innovative choreography.
This company is really different than anything I have seen to date. A eclectic mixture of styles from contemporary ballet to Broadway-type show-stoppers, gymnastics to modern. I was amazed!
I preferred the balletic numbers overall but enjoyed the rest as just pure entertainment.
The opening number “From Me to You in About Half the Time” was incredible. All through it I kept thinking “wow!” Rock solid ballet technique displayed by innovative choreography. Think if you will, “Steptext” by Forsythe, but with more emotion.
Edwaard Liang, a former NYCB soloist, deserves special mention. My seat had terrible site lines so much of his performance was lost, but what I saw was outstanding and he received a large ovation from the audience.
Dance legends Carmen de Lavallade and Gus Solomons, Jr. performed a piece called “It All” to music by Bjork consisting of lots of arm movements and emotions. I figure that the lady must be in her 70s but still elegant and together they were very expressive.
Since I was having such a hard time seeing, I decided to move from my Row C center seat to the back of the theater during the first intermission. Much much better! I wasn’t being beaten to a bloody pulp by the music and I could see!
The orchestra seats in the front of the Ahmanson are horrid. Not raked and one seat directly behind the other. So, if one has a big-headed guy sitting in front of one, one can’t see!
After the intermission Sheri “Sparkle” Williams performed a piece call “Growth” and her skills as a physical fitness trainer were well used. The audience loved her non-stop athleticism. After the first two numbers, this one was rather a surprise and I finally figured out this was not your mother’s night out at the ballet kind of company.
Music by James Brown set the tone for Sarita Allen and Marc Mann dancing the blues in an excerpt from “Please Please Please”. Another crowd pleaser.
And then the dancer I most wanted to see — Desmond Richardson in a solo.
First off this man has a body that has no fat on it, nary an ounce and every muscle is finely delineated. He looks like a moving sculpture, body that is art, passing through time and space with power and grace — all parts connected, never stopping but heart-stopping in beauty and complexity. A hand movement that looks like Michelango’s David come to life.
The only number after that that made any real impression on me was Ave Maria performed by Valerie Madonia and Meredith Rainey. Her steely strength en pointe was another highlight and he was a perfect partner.
It was too bad that this powerful number followed Richardson’s as I was still rather stunned from his solo.
The last two numbers in the Act I were nice, but, just nice. “Givin’ Up” with Don Bellamy and Michael Thomas and “Wiegen Lied” with a host of dancers were not striking. Just nice.
Act II was not exactly my cup of Earl Grey. “Higher Ground” set to music by Earth Wind & Fire was just too Broadway for me. Not that it wasn’t good, I just preferred the ballet numbers more. It was a fun and highly energetic piece — I don’t think the dancers hardly stopped moving at all while they were on stage. But after the first numbers this was a light-hearted let down. Although the rest of the audience would disagree with me!
For more on this fascinating company including some awesome photos check out their web site