This time of year when it’s cold, dance is a good choice to see to keep your blood flowing and that’s just what Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company does. Founded by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, this is their 23rd year. They have been an amazing force in the dance world. I got to see one of the epic programs they presented at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan.
This season they brought back the two pieces that still amazes me each time I see them. “Gutter Glitter,” a first of a series and “Stardust” by Rhoden, a ballet tribute to Music Icon David Bowie. The company gave a variation with a few new members of the Company performing in the pieces.
“Gutter Glitter,” the opening one was vibrant and dark at the same time. The mood of self and partner reflection going from the shadows into the light was enhanced by the lighting of this complexed piece. A tryptic of duos fanned off on their own journeys while the other body of dancers seemed to be where they went for re-enforcement and support after expressing their own individual issues.
Dancers, Brandon Gray and Kelly Sneedon, Andrew Brader and Jillian Davis YoungSil Kim and Kelly Marsh are veterans from last season and they gave a fresh look at this piece.
This was some of the audience’s first time seeing “Stardust” so they didn’t know what they were about to enter. This dance glam-opera is a representation of Bowie’s gender-bending style and music that crossed over to several genres and a reflection of his ever changing life of his 40 year career. The Ballet uses a very calculated set of his popular songs and tells a story of the key stages in his life.
Opening with “Lazarus” the last song Bowie recorded and released on his birthday two days before his leaving earth, Dancer Brandon Gray, began the stories of each of the 9 songs the Company used to depict the important stages of Bowie’s career. Gray, who danced the same role Terk Waters did last year, did a fierce portrayal of the role as well.
The lip synching of important stanzas of “Lazarus” seamlessly expressed the lyrics through Rhode’s choreography. Gray and Brader fluidly interchanged roles of the singer as the ladder took on the song “Changes” and visually channeled Bowie.
Mr. Blackmon stepped up to the plate in “Life on Mars” as he went right in giving his unique presence to it. The company carried the torch to bring the full visual experience with costumes, make-up, the set and lighting. The dance for “Space Oddity” seemed to have taken the show with some dancers languidly crossing the stage on Extreme pointe led by Addison Ector who widened some audience’s eyes with his non-gravity pointe which brought you up to Major Tom in his space ship.
Apprentice Timothy Stickney earned his turn performing to “1984” with amazing energy with the Company. “1984” morphed into “Heroes” so smoothly with Jillian Davis, Addison Ector, Simon Plant, YoungSil Kim, Kelly Marsh IV and Brandon Gray.
The remaining 4 songs and dance pieces were paired together for a lavish crescendo of “Modern Love some Rock and Roll Suicide” and the finale of “Young Americans.”