BWW Review: COMPLEXIONS CONTEMPORARY BALLET EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS at DOROTHY CHANDLER PAVILION
COMPLEXIONS CONTEMPORARY BALLET EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
@ THE Dorothy Chandler PAVILION APRIL 21, & 22, 2018
For a few decades, The Complexions Dance Company has been my very favorite company to see perform. They did not fail me again. Literally mind-blowing performances from this visit to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Founded by the dream of a dancer Desmond Richardson, there is no question that this company has everything it takes to top the list!
With just the anticipation of what would occur, I was beside myself with joy to be seeing them perform again. I first saw this company many years ago at The Nate Holden Performance Center in Los Angeles. Desmond Richardson performed an extraordinary display of mastery of the Art of Dance, and was catapulted to instant fame in the Dance World.
In this short engagement at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, presented by the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation, fifteen extraordinary dancers, multi-ethnic and diverse artists, gave us our money's worth and more.
The opening piece, BACH 25, choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, was worth the admission alone. With nude-colored costuming, with a plastic sheen that was caught by the lighting so that it appeared we were watching dance in it's most natural form, it was performed without a single movement not fully executed. Desmond Richardson's solo, in the beginning of the piece, was exquisite... he moves like butter, dancing in a fugue-like section, complementing the string instruments' solos with every stroke of the cello, violins, etc.; with power and grace combined. The varied formations in the following sections were innovative and aesthetically pleasing. The partner work and counterpoint choreography was so clean and exact ~ so together, that it was as if their heartbeats were exactly in sync.
All of the dancers were so in tune with each other, against a black background, making it all the more difficult to be exact. The unusual lifts and men's section in the following section were perfection, and switching to following the melody, be it a bass, violin or piano solo, was done with such ease and clarity it was seamless and just gorgeous to watch. The mixture of balletic positions and modern and even funky moves was a delight; it flowed together seamlessly. The tempos varied from a brisk pizzicato on violins, to legato strokes where a male solo dancer did a section in deep plie' with intricate floorwork.
Next came a section with choir/hymn-like vocals, very allegro, and the control, coupled with painting pictures with the dancers' poses was remarkable. The music builds, then breaks into different instruments' solos, while the dancers move in counter-melodies and different formations, and vacillate between supple body movement and tight, sharply planted turns, triple pirouettes and steps.
It concludes with more combinations and formations, ending with three couples dancing to a trumpet solo, surrounding one male dancer.
The Second Act was a tribute to David Bowie, entitled STARDUST, choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Costumes by Christine Darch, lighting by Michael Korsch, performed by the entire Company. The vast innovative collection of Bowie music was celebrated with nine of his hits, creating a rock opera style production that was electric and visually stimulating, with different members of the company taking turns lip-syncing and moving to the beat, fleshing out the meaning of the words in true flagrant strutting and complicated, athletic movements. The audience went wild, as they demonstrated amazing renditions and choreography to match. The costuming went from outrageous get-ups to tie-dyed tights and bare chests, with each dancer dressed differently from each other. The lighting was dramatic and very effective, with starbursts of light concentrated on where the movement was being created.
In LAZARUS, Brandon Gray held court on the lip of the stage, then using the entire stage to perform dynamic knee slides and other boisterous moves.
CHANGES began with Andrew Brader sitting on the edge of the stage, singing the lyrics, while the rest of the company was spotlighted in couples in very interpretive moves, at times acrobatic and modern in nature.LIFE ON MARS was performed to a ripping guitar solo, highlighting Greg Blackmon in pointe shoes and deep plie' en a la seconde, and workin' it to the max!
SPACE ODDITY was one of my favorite sections, with Addison Ector, making a fabulous entrance, en pointe no less, tippin' all over the stage, owning that ground control while flaunting to beat the band and selling it like nobody's business. The arm movements of the other dancers reflected propellers and getting ready for takeoff. During the instrumental interlude, the female dancers, en pointe, were very strong and powerful, totally in sync with each other. At this point, different people shared the vocals, moving in and out of one another, while spectacular split jumps and gorgeous lifts were whizzing by in a frenzy of activity, building to the end.
1984, featuring Timothy Stickney, was another standout in his command of the stage and the material. The Shaft-like music, violins intertwined with a raging wa-wa guitar effect was electrifying and the choreography included lots of head rolls, slides across the floor and other early '70s movements that were oh-so-fun to watch!
HEROES, Peter Gabriel's song, began with Jillian Davis center stage, flanked by two male dancers, dancing to a cello solo, giving a thrilling performance and was a standout in the cast, throughout.
All of the dancers are exceptional, to be sure, and every moment was danced to the fullest, with much conviction and grace. The ending of this piece was very poignant, with the company standing in a straight line, and with very little movement, conveying reverence to the heroes of battle and the emotions felt.
MODERN LOVE was like a love-in, danced with wild abandon by the entire cast, featuring an interesting section of two men partnering and lifting each other that was quite unique.
ROCK AND ROLL SUICIDE was another upbeat number, with lots of quick footwork, quadruple tours en l'air and other showy steps done by Simon Plant, who ends the number falling apart and landing in a heap on the floor. Dramatic and effective, as is most of Bowie's music.
YOUNG AMERICANS ends the evening, and by this time, the audience is starting to get up on their feet while the whole company shines while performing to a Reggae beat, with stunning footwork and positions that seem impossible to even the best dancers in the business.
They took their bows to LET'S DANCE and the entire audience was on their feet, screaming and clapping and singing along. I can't quite convey how amazingly hard this Company works and dazzles through it all. I am in awe of their expertise; each and every one of them. Bravo!!!!!!!!
Next time they are in town, this is a must-see for anyone who enjoys watching or performing dance. They are superb!
Photos credit: Hagos Rush