Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden’s New York based company, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, took a trip to Provo on March 4th for a one-night-only guest performance. Featured in the de Jong Concert Hall on Brigham Young University’s campus, the Complexions dancers demonstrated the intricate nuances between structured ballet technique and fluid contemporary movement, while exploring concepts of love, loneliness, and relationships.
The company performed an excerpt from “Cryin’ to Cry Out”, choreographed by resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden. The duet featured a man and woman standing in spotlights on opposite sides of the stage. The two danced simultaneously, but not together. They remained on their opposite sides, signifying separation. Focusing internally, they expressed emotions that were desperate to come out but they had to bear them alone.
“Gone” told the story of three hopeless, lonely, and destitute men that found camaraderie in each other. Smoky lighting kept the men in hazy silhouettes for the entirety of the dance, giving an ominous, hopeless feeling. The shadowy figures repeated forceful arm movements to rhythmic clapping and gospel vocals. As the men danced individually, this repetitive motion was the thread that tied them all together in a strengthening brotherhood—a sign of belonging and survival.
The show wrapped-up with Rhoden’s 30-minute “Ballad Unto…” that just had its Complexions premier in October of last year. Performed by all 13 members of the company, “Ballad Unto…” was a powerful note to end on. The bold piece demonstrated the explosive movement of seven couples. The choreography alternated between women and men group movement and then explored pas de deux work. The audience witnessed how the couples came together in an “intimate abstraction of love” (program excerpt).
Complexions Contemporary Ballet put on an exhilarating hour-long show with original and creative movement that never stopped pushing boundaries and always gave the audience something new to see.
Chloe Stacey is an undergraduate student at BYU.