Monday, March 30, 2009

GMU Center for the Arts Welcomes Complexions Contemporary Ballet

The Mason Gazette

Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson founded Complexions Contemporary Ballet in 1994 to explore powerful social, political and emotional issues through the use of cutting-edge choreography grounded in classical dance, original music and creative multimedia effects.

The program, subject to change, is scheduled to include several works by Resident Choreographer Rhoden, as well as one by Richardson.

The performance comes to the George Mason University Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, April 11, at 8 p.m.

The performance begins with “Routines,” a fluid, abstract piece that explores the dual concept of “routines” – those performed by dancers on a stage and those executed in the course of the everyday life of a dancer. Then a trio of male dancers will perform “Gone,” a piece about brotherhood, survival and the struggle to live through conflict.

Next will be an excerpt from “Momentary Forevers,” a work set to music by George Frederic Handel and John Cage; Richardson’s own powerful and unrestrained “Fall”; an excerpt from “Moody Booty Blues” set to “When the Guitar Plays the Blues” by Roy Buchanan; and a piece called “Moonlight,” an excerpt from Rhoden’s “Frames,” performed by Richardson.

Last, the company will perform “Rise,” which explores the dizzying journey of life in all its complexity and ecstasy, set to the anthem-like songs of U2.

The company received the prestigious New York Times “Critics Choice” Award in 1995 and has since toured throughout the United States and abroad.

Rhoden has created and choreographed more than 60 ballets for Complexions. Under his tutelage, the company has performed at numerous dance venues and festivals around the world, including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Mahalia Jackson Performance Art Center in New Orleans, Italy’s Festival of Dance and the Holland Dance Festival.

Rhoden has performed with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal, and he was a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

He has received numerous awards, including the New York Foundation of the Arts Award, the Choo San Goh Award for Choreography and The Ailey School’s Apex Award. Rhoden has lectured and served as an artist-in-residence at universities across the country. He has also worked with such high-profile artists as Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Kelly Clarkson and Patrick Swayze. Most recently his choreography was featured on the Fox network’s hit television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Having mastered classical, modern and contemporary dance, Richardson was a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for seven years and also performed with the Ballet Frankfurt in Germany.

He was also a guest artist with the Washington Ballet, Teatro at La Scala and the San Francisco Ballet. Richardson performed the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre’s world premiere production of “Othello”; appeared in on Broadway in “The Locks of Love” and Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel’s hit musical “Movin’ Out”; and he received a 1999 Tony Award nomination for his performance in the Broadway musical “Fosse.”

He has performed with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince and Aretha Franklin, and recently appeared in Julie Taymor’s film “Across the Universe.” Richardson received the Alvin Ailey School’s Apex Award and the prestigious Dance Magazine Award.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsors of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason season.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit