By Dontré Conerly
In its 21st season, dubbed “Beyond 20,” Complexions has crafted an impressive dance program built entirely on love; and their two-hour high-octane program is a kinetic tour de force which explores the full range of the amorous emotion.
“We like the issue of love,” say Desmond Richardson, one half of Complexions’s founding duo. “We like love and compassion.”
If we are to believe that “love is kind. . . .does not boast. . . .is not easily angered,” then Complexions shows its audience a deep seeded, visceral love, where an amorous connection is passionate, effusive, and gripping.
It’s a tall order to traverse the vicissitudes of amour, but “Beyond 20” expertly expressions all of its nuances. Sometimes suave and delicate, other times harsh and reactionary, the 2015 season lays bare the raw fibers of love, be it for friends and family, those we admire, or simply our fellow man.
“We bring the audience on a full range,” says Richardson of the program. And it is this range that allows Complexions to explore the varied expressions of love using an eclectic mix of music and technique suited to the particular sentiment of each dance.
Romantic love begins the evening in Ballad Unto, where seven couples depict the nuances of initial courtship, set to a score by Johann Sebastian Bach. Their lithe, agile bodies are pure poetry, as acquaintance and first meetings are expressed through delicate touch and tender embraces, highlighting the nervous energy contained in first dates and tenuous kisses.
In Cryin to Cry Out and Approximate Sonata, our dancers are now firmly established couples and their dances are expressions of their love for one another. Soulful, jazzy tunes by Jimmy Scott and Ella Fitzgerald solidify the passionate bond, and like sleek, decadent swans the duos move as one, with a palpable vivacity that expresses the confidence of their solid coupling.
Borne of admiration for the late Dr. Maya Angelou, IMPRINT/MAYA is an homage to the late orator and poet who inspired us all to love our neighbor—a lesson Richardson feels is more urgent given recent events, both globally and domestically.
He laments, “The compassion for the fellow man isn’t all around.”
Having watched Angelou dance with Alvin Ailey, himself, during his time with the company, Richardson draws upon his personal admiration for Angelou to fuel his breathtaking solo. He couples a fierce kinetic energy with laser sharp precision which produces a tangible awe and sends waves of chills through the audience.
If IMPRINT/MAYA was the inspiration for global love, STRUM is its dazzling accompaniment. Set to the guitar rifts and rock tunes of Metallica, STRUM is a frenetic effusion of love for everyone. It’s an energetic reminder that love, though ephemeral, must be bold and unyielding.
One thing’s for certain, you’ll love the new season of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. You can see them at the Joyce Theater through November 29, 2015.