Review: Complexions Contemporary Ballet 

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson opened their company in 1994 as the first fully multicultural ballet company in the U.S., with a “groundbreaking mix of methods, styles, and cultures.”

Rhoden’s choreography aimed to showcase Richardson’s amazing virtuosity and to stretch limits of the human body in motion with a “slam-bang, snap-stretch approach” replete with over-extended arms and legs and pelvis-breaking squats. Supple limbs twist, turn and weave out of a windstorm of distortions, dancers yanking each other from position to position.

Not much for nuance, Complexions goes for the big picture more than the small moments. Opening with the epic “Mercy” abstractions of masochistic acts within pools of light as a netherworld, yearning gives way to redemption hinted at by constant costume changes. But why are there buckets to sit on?

Act two opened with one section of the contemporary ballet “Dear Frederic” presenting a swath of dance genres. The exciting factor was recalling this same piece danced at IU Ballet Theater in fall 2011 by student Christopher Linger, staged by Juan-Antonio Rodriguez, who was at this instant on stage at The Tarkington.

Memory pinpointed individuality of charisma within the same steps and this is one of the pleasures of attending a lot of dance performance. “Amazing Grace” counter pointed jerky rapidity with fluidity; “Showman’s Groove” hinted at Broadway show dancing; “On Holiday” explored a stormy relationship.

Act two closed with Richardson’s muscular “Solo” to music by Prince. Act three featured “Rise” a mix of marathons and showmanship. The dancers give 110%. Jan. 22 at The Tarkington Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts, Carmel.

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