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The Joyce Theater

Founding Artistic Directors:
Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson
Executive Director: Amadea Edwards
Artistic Advisor: Carmen de Lavallade
Artists in Residence:
Desmond Richardson, Sarita Allen
Ballet Master: Jae Man Joo
Asst. Ballet Mistress: Sabra Perry
Lighting Designer/Tech. Director: Michael Korsch
Prod. Stage Manager: Stephanie Gasiorowski
Company Manager: Jonathan Pessolano
Marketing and Public Relations: Jodi Krizer Graber

The Company:
Natalia Alonso, Edgar Anido, Joo Hwan Cho
Christina Dooling, Patricia Hachey, D. Gary W. Jeter II
Natiya Kezevazde, Philip Orsano, Christie Partelow
Sabra Perry, John Reid, Desmond Richardson, Juan Rodriguez,
Hiroko Sakakibara, Wendy White Sasser, Simon Sliva

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 21, 2008


Routines (NY Premiere): Choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Music by Collage, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Set Design by Dwight Rhoden and Michael Korsch, Costumes by Christine Darch, Performed by the Company.

Constructs for 4 (World Premiere): Choreography by Igal Perry, Asst. to Choreographer: Junichi Fukuda, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Costumes by Elena Comendador, Performed by Gary W. Jeter II, John Reid, Philip Orsano, Natiya Kezevazde.

I Will Not Be Broken (World Premiere): Choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Music: Traditional Spirituals, Music Performed by S. Epatha Merkerson, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Costumes by Christine Darch, Performed by Desmond Richardson with Sabra Perry and Juan Rodriguez.

Ave Maria (1995): Choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Music by Caccini, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Costume Design by Christine Darch, Performed by Hiroko Sakakibara and Simon Sliva.

Rise (World Premiere): Choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Music by U2, Lighting by Michael Korsch, Costumes by Christine Darch, Performed by the Company.

Desmond Richardson was formerly a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (seven years) and performed with Ballet Frankfurt. In 1997, he joined American Ballet Theater as a principal and danced the lead in Othello. He has also acted, danced, and sung on Broadway, such as in Movin’ Out, and has also worked on television, video, and films. Mr. Richardson won the Dance Magazine Award in 2007. Dwight Rhoden has been choreographing for Complexions since 1994, which he co-founded with Mr. Richardson. Mr. Rhoden has choreographed for ballet companies, as well as those presenting contemporary dance. He is Resident Choreographer of North Carolina Dance Theatre and in 1998 received the New York Foundation for the Arts Award.

Tonight’s high-powered, pulsating program began with Routines, with iron stiff tutus, shiny gold curtains, and a red-hot, sizzling score. It was the electronic contrast to Harold Lander’s Études, only far less complex or challenging. Yet, there were some magnetic moments, and Christine Darch’s costumes remain in my memory as stark, campy, and quite effective. The music was so over-miced, as it was throughout the evening, that it was hard to concentrate while trying not to absorb such reverberations. I had hoped to see Mr. Richardson dance more often, but he only appeared in one work. The ensemble in Routines did exude super-muscular motion, with tight balance and charisma.

Constructs would have been appreciated more, had the Bach score been used to more melodic results. It seemed as electrified and pounding as did the Collage score above. Constructs has a quartet of dancers, who split for solos and duos in a mesmerizing motif. Igal Perry gave Gary W. Jeter II a wonderful lead here, showcasing his extraordinary balletic talent and powerful muscular control. Mr. Perry used the form of Bach’s Partita, the notes say, as an inspiration for the simple alternation of elements of motion and emotion. This was my favorite work tonight, as it was not over-layered with repetition.

I Will Not Be Broken finally featured Mr. Richardson, dancing and writhing to a live speaker and vocalist, S. Epatha Merkerson. Ms. Merkerson sang unaccompanied spirituals, in this work about loss and survival. Sabra Perry and Juan Rodriguez danced in duo, separately from Mr. Richardson, who uses a bench for sitting, leaning, pushing his torso, and cradling his body. Mr. Richardson is a riveting presence, and I would have liked to see him dance to actual music tonight. However, Ms. Merkerson had compelling stage skills, and she walked about, facing the audience with strength. The lighting was exceptionally warm, and Mr. Richardson seemed to exude Graham technique in gripping contractions, releases, and facial gestures, all driving the theme of “resiliency of the human spirit”, per program notes. This work could have been a few spirituals shorter, as after a while the choreography lost its fascination.

Ave Maria is an excerpt from Mr. Rhoden’s The Grapes of Wrath, and notes say it explores faith, devotion, desire, and human frailties. The images of this duo for Hiroko Sakakibara and Simon Sliva are those of spirituality and sexuality. The final work of this program was Rise, another premiere. The U2 score had the audience shoving their fists in the air, and ten songs, such as “With Or Without You” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, propelled the dancers in what seemed to be a wild aerobic class or a mass celebration. I took the moment to be renewed excitement at the upcoming political landscape, as the dance ends with “Beautiful Day”, and the audience was bouncing in their seats. What I took away from this program was an opinion that Complexions needs to bring fresh ideas into the mix, more outside choreography that the talented, energized company can perform. The style and scores were too much of the same. And, by evening’s end, my head and ears were pounding.

Juan Rodriguez and Natiya Kezevazde
Courtesy of Dah-len

Desmond Richardson
Courtesy of Dah-len

Juan Rodriguez and Wendy White Sasser
Courtesy of Dah-len

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at