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Complexions

by Jennifer Wesnousky
January 14, 2007
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800
Never precisely posing, the lithe, impossibly muscular members of the COMPLEXIONS Dance Company moved always to and through the limits of their own extensions, stretching further and further into line after line without revealing their transitions. Rolling seamlessly from position to position, they demonstrated, in their performance at the Joyce Theatre on January 14, 2007, their inherent understanding of movement quality.

In HISSY FIT, which comprised the entirety of the performance's first act, the COMPLEXIONS dancers displayed remarkable, otherworldly agility, moving from leaps to turns to rolls to the ground and up as if by magic. Striking every piano note with some nuance of movement, sometimes as subtle as the twitch of a finger, albeit in the midst of a leap, it was difficult to imagine conceiving much less choreographing such intricacy. Characterized by chaotic formations and partnering, choreography by Founding Artistic Director Dwight Rhoden included off-axis lifts, spins and rotating, never-ending ponchés. And yet, despite crescendoing along with the piano's music, the dancers often appeared aloof to their own mayhem, alternating tumultuous energy with diffidence until the end of the piece, when their reactive streaks overtook them. When one featured dancer went from wild, erratic physical and emotional expression to sitting upon the ground, staring blankly and chewing childishly on his foot, he appeared to allude spookily to the austere atmosphere of confinement.

Of the four outstanding numbers that made up Act II, Rhoden's solo, LOOSE CHANGE, was the highlight. Coming across as a kind of personal prayer, choreographer Taye Diggs utilized the soulful sounds of If I Had a Dime by David Ryan Harris to merge influences from hip-hop to break-dance to African. Rhoden's poignant portrayal of Diggs' concept invited the audience into an individual's personal and spiritual space, as if catching him singing in the shower or acting out some childhood, rock star fantasy that still, in adulthood, remained. Enactments of such daily activities as hair combing, talking on the telephone and playing the piano were interrupted by emotional outbursts: from feigned jumping rope, to throwing his hands to the heavens, to rolling about on the ground, Rhoden allowed expressions of present joy and pain with an overall sensation of asking for triumph tomorrow.

Performed by the arresting duo of Juan Rodriguez and Yusha Marie Sorzano, whose black and white costuming contrasted their own COMPLEXIONS as well as one another, THIS HEART put forth a couple overwhelmed by mutual passion, spinning, intertwining and seldom separating. Later, as one male dancer encouraged his female counterpart to explore his body in BARELY SILENT, two couples appeared to dance through their emotion and lack of understanding for one another, even while in physical contact. Finally, making creative use of chairs in the playful and brilliantly constructed closing number, Rhoden's black, white and red clad dancers again displayed the effectiveness of detailed accents within an engrossingly harmonious chaos.

COMPLEXIONS' technical ability and choreographic complexity make them one of the most breathtaking modern dance companies on the scene today. Despite meticulous direction with the highest quality staging, musicality and movement, the COMPLEXIONS company nevertheless maintains a constant air of spontaneity. Whether diving to the floor during twirling, tilted arabesques, exploding effortlessly into the air or reaching further into already gravity-defying extensions, the company's balance lies in their superb technical ability to allow themselves to be off-balance and in constantly captivating motion.

FOUNDING ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson

RESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER: Dwight Rhoden

GENERAL MANAGER: Michael J. Moore

ARTISTIC ADVISOR: Carmen De Lavallade

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: Sarita Allen

TECH DIRECTOR/LIGHTING DESIGNER: Michael Korsch

PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER: Ian Britton

REHEARSAL DIRECTOR: Jodie Gates

THE COMPANY: Karah Abiog, Bryan Arias, Christina Dooling, Ebony Haswell, Monique Meunier, Kimi Nikaidoh, Victoria North, Sabra Perry, Matthew Prescott, Rubinald Pronk, Desmond Richardson, Ian Robinson, Juan Rodriguez, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Clifford C. Williams.

APPRENTICES: Allyson Kelly, Kyle Bernbach, Rachel McSween, Chris Bordenave, Kelsey Buchanan Saleem Abdullah.
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