Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a Dance Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington where she serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. She is also a member of Muscle Memory Dance Theatre – a modern dance collective.
Trick or treat? On Friday night at the Winspear Opera House, Complexions Contemporary Ballet gave us nothing but treats as the company kicked off TITAS’ annual dance series with a program filled with love, sweat and tears.
The first treat was the explosive “Mercy,” which precisely illustrates what Complexions is known for – blurring the line between modern, ballet and urban movement. The work was grounded and made great use of the space, as modern dance does, yet it demonstrated the classical ballet technique that all the company members have been trained in with graceful extensions and floating leaps. It also added in an element of hip-hop, with hard-hitting, staccato isolations that reverberated throughout the body. There were also B-Boy power moves such as a windmill – in which the dancer uses momentum to rotate his body onto his back and then to his stomach – and scissors – a move started while lying straight on your side, then bending your body to touch your toes and flipping over to your other side.
Not one element was out of place, from the seamless transitions between ensemble work, solos and pas de deuses, to the integration of props, mixing of tempos, specific lighting and haze that created a dusty church interior. Performed by any other company, “Mercy” would have been melodramatic. But the attention to detail and maturity that Artistic Directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson and the company bring to the stage allows “Mercy” to envelope the audience and take us on an uplifting ride. It was the perfect marriage of technique and human spirit.
The only downside was that we were only allowed to see the first act. Rhoden and Richardson intend to add a second act to “Mercy,” creating an evening-length work exploring the ideas of salvation.
But Complexions gifted us with more treats in Acts II and III with several short pieces, including the masculine “Gone,” performed by Clifford Williams, Joo Hwan Cho and Philip John Orsano, that explored the universal themes of brotherhood, survival and the struggle to live through conflict; a pas de deux from “Momentary Forevers” that was the most traditional ballet piece performed that night; the sexy and comedic “Moody Booty Blues”; and the famous “Moonlight.” Performed by Richardson, “Moonlight” evokes Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and man’s journey and struggle with anonymity and identity. They closed the night with athletic “Rise,” a celebration of life.
The Complexions dancers put all their love, sweat and tears into this performance – but the only tears that were shed were tears of joy. Everyone left with smiles on their faces and stories to tell. If this performance is any indication of what TITAS has to offer this season, we are in for more treats.