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VIDEO: Complexions' World Premiere for TITAS

by Jerome Weeks 3 May 2011 2:07 PM

We take a backstage look at how a world-premiere dance work, based on classic spirituals, takes shape. Complexions’ co-founder Dwight Rhoden talks about ‘Testament’ which debuts at the Winspear next week.


Last year, Charles Santos, executive director of TITAS, commissioned Dwight Rhoden, co-founder of the acclaimed, New York-based dance company, Complexions, to create a new work — collaborating with Dallas actor-singers Cedric Neal and Liz Mikel. The original idea for “Testament” was to use Neal’s incredible gospel voice to sing classic spirituals, live, on stage — to which Rhoden would choreograph his nine dancers into solos, trios and chorus numbers. Together, the two have selected songs — like “Ride On, King Jesus” — to create what Rhoden calls “a journey,” and Neal, who has since moved to New York, will perform it with Mikel next week onstage at the Winspear Opera House.

As a member of Alvin Ailey’s company, Rhoden danced Ailey’s “Revelations,” his great signature piece that uses spirituals and evokes their small-town, 19th-century origins. Rhoden says he’s very much a product of that artistry but he wants to create something distinctly new and contemporary with similar material. We get to hear Mikel and Neal sing, and we see Rhoden rehearse two of  his dancers — as “Testament” takes shape.

Dwight Rhoden, Charles Santos, Christie Partelow,  Cedric Neal and Clifford Williams in rehearsal at the Wyly

outfront image: Jae Man Joo