An Accomplished Dance Company with Heart and Spirit


Various composers, Dwight Rhoden (choreography): Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, 17.4.2016. (JRo)

Terk Lewis Waters, dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet (Photo: Jae Man Joo)

Terk Lewis Waters, dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet (Photo: Jae Man Joo)

Dancers: Doug Baum, Greg Blackmon, Andrew Brader, Jillian Davis, Addison Ector, Larissa Gerszke, Whitney Hester, Young Sil Kim, Shanna Irwin, Kelly Marsh IV, Ashley Mayeux, Kelly Sneddon, Nehemiah Spencer, Timothy Stickney, Terk Lewis Waters


Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Costume Design: Christine Darch
Lighting and Set Design: Michael Korsch

Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: Odetta
Costume Design: DR Squared
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch 

Cryin’ to Cry Out/excerpt
Music: Jimmy Scott
Costume Design: DR Squared
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch 

Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: “Summer”
Costume Design: DR Squared
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch 

Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: “Amazing Grace”/traditional
Costume Design: Jae Man Joo
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch

Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: David Rozenblatt with words by Maya Angelou
Costume Design: Christine Darch
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch 

Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: Steve Wonder
Costume Design: Kelly Brown
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch

In a varied program of dances by Dwight Rhoden, set to music ranging from Bach and Vivaldi to Odetta and Stevie Wonder, Complexions Contemporary Ballet brought zest, excitement, and a troupe of charismatic dancers to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage.

Co-directed by Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, both former principals with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Complexions presented six short dances (two were excerpts) sandwiched between two longer works. Combining classical ballet with modern dance inflected with jazz and hip-hop, Rhoden makes the most of his well-trained dancers.

The first offering, Ballet Unto… for seven couples, was performed in front of a black backdrop with dancers in minimal but effective costumes, in colors ranging from burnt orange to burgundy. The neoclassically inspired ballet opened on Terk Lewis Waters, a breathtaking performer of many gifts, including a pliant body of imposing stature. Paired with Bach’s keyboard music, the dancers, whether on point or in ballet shoes, attacked steps with classical precision, doing justice to the clarity of Bach’s vision. Handsome lighting illuminated their torsos and limbs, which seemed to cut through the atmosphere to create masses of solid, sculptural form.

If Ballet Unto… suffered from being overly long, the next six pieces were short and sweet. Gone, to music by Odetta, offered a powerful emotional experience, as three dancers—Kelly Marsh IV, Nehemiah Spencer, and Timothy Stickney—embodied the human struggle to find dignity amidst suffering. Cryin’ To Cry Out featured the voice of countertenor jazz singer Jimmy Scott. Mr. Waters, performing with Young Sil Kim, had the uncanny ability to make deep emotional states of being visible in dance.

Vivaldi’s “Summer” from The Four Seasons was the soundtrack for Choke, featuring the effervescent duo of Doug Baum and Addison Ector. Dressed in bright green, the puckish pair cavorted with diabolical energy. Testament, set to Amazing Grace, featured the exquisitely lithe and lyrical Ashley Mayeux partnered by a forceful Andrew Brader, in a pas de deux that posed questions of faith and spirituality, as the two dancers seemed to grasp for understanding, alternating between sudden sharp movements and legato phrasing. The last of the six pieces, Imprint/Maya, featured the words of Maya Angelou set to music by David Rozenblatt. Desmond Richardson, a magnetic dancer, gave a stirring performance of Angelou’s text.

In a celebration of Stevie Wonder’s music, the program concluded with Innervisions, a mostly joyful, unbridled frolic. With shades of disco infused with sly wit, Rhoden constructed a dance out of seemingly free form movements. One of his strengths as a choreographer is his ability to position dancers in what appear to be random arrangements, but which, in reality, are highly structured patterns. Though somewhat weakened by obvious popular references and the need for editing and cutting, the infectious nature of the piece captured the hearts of the audience.

With dancers like the kinetic Stickney, who combine technical rigor with high energy and individuality, Complexions Contemporary Ballet shines as an engaging company with heart and spirit.

Jane Rosenberg


Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! Violinist Liza Ferschtman Celebrates Bernstein’s Centenary in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H