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    Gary Jeter and Philip John Orsano in Mercy in Complexions 15 Years
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    Gary Jeter and Philip John Orsano in "Mercy"

    Throw Everything at Them

    Complexions Contemporary Ballet celebrates 15 years of energy and movement


    Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. That is certainly not the philosophy of Dwight Rhoden and Complexions; though it would it probably be hard to watch too much of Desmond Richardson's dancing, the sheer volume of movement in one evening's Complexions performance just blurs the whole. Every one of the sixteen dancers who isn't Desmond Richardson is technically brilliant and often virtuosic. Making it through two weeks of performances on a slippery Joyce Theater stage is an athletic accomplishment both for the physical pyrotechnics and the endurance required for the close to two hours of it they do each night. Perhaps celebrating the 15th anniversary of the company means throwing out all stops and dancing flatout all night.

    Choreography by: Dwight Rhoden.
    Dancers: Desmond Richardson and dancers Natalia Alonso, Edgar Anido, Joo Hwan Cho, Christina Dooling, Patricia Hachey, Gary W. Jeter II, Natiya Kezevadze, Philip John Orsano, Christie Partelow, Sabra Perry, Juan Rodriguez, Hiroko Sakakibara, Wendy White Sassner, Simon Sliva and Clifford Williams.
    Lighting design by: Michael Korsch.
    Artistic Directors: Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.
    Ballet Master: Jae Man Joo.
    Joyce Theater
    November 17-29, 2009

    It all adds up to a big show and a good one, but it may be one of the few experiences that feels like it would have been fuller with less. Is there something scary about quiet and stillness that constant motion and big music keeps at bay? Contemporary ballet here seems to reject the storytelling of traditional ballet and replace acting with moving; there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it can quickly look like trying too hard when the dynamics of big movement and small storyline developments are replaced by nonstop flash and dazzle.

    Program C of the two-week run began with Mercy, full of everything, as above, but an odd choice of title by the end even of this excerpted showing, which really begs for an ending well before it comes. Sections of male group dancing stand out in this piece, as do solos by Edgar Anido and Richardson, but an extended section with black buckets seems like a way to get everyone on stage at the same time to help the 'more is better' feel. Waves of people entering and exiting also create spectacle and richness, and a dual duet section is interesting though the two duos do much the same movements, with Hiroko Sakakibara getting the most attention. A rays-of-light-filtering-through-smoke lighting effect dominates much of the end of the piece and gives the church incense feel of an offertory or, given the Arabic vocalizations/prayers earlier in the piece, the dusty immensity of a large mosque.

    duet from Mercy in Complexions 15 Years  
    Photo by Quinn Batson  
    duet from Mercy
    Act II features a tantalizing excerpt of Dirty Wire, here a duet between Anido and Christie Partelow, beginning in angular light and music in orange, with orange-accented costumes. The duet grabs attention midshow both for its dance qualities and for its elements mostly missing from the rest of the evening: unhurried, big movement with touches of pathos even in bright white light.

    A let-your-hair-down blues throwdown somewhere along the way showcases D. Gary W. Jeter, II, Christina Dooling and Sakakibara, and the entire album's worth of U2 music that fuels Rise for Act III gives everyone a chance to shine and wholly succeeds in sending off the evening in feelgood mode. And everyone, for the record, is the dance phenomenon Desmond Richardson and the dancers Natalia Alonso, Edgar Anido, Joo Hwan Cho, Christina Dooling, Patricia Hachey, Gary W. Jeter II, Natiya Kezevadze, Philip John Orsano, Christie Partelow, Sabra Perry, Juan Rodriguez, Hiroko Sakakibara, Wendy White Sassner, Simon Sliva and Clifford Williams.

    NOVEMBER 30, 2009

    Reader comments on Complexions 15 Years:

  • misplaced name   from Dancer, Dec 15, 2009
  • Re: misplaced name   from Quinn Batson, Feb 11, 2010
  • Photo Credit   from Desmond Richardson, Feb 19, 2010

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