Complexions Contemporary Ballet Is Moving to the Unexpected

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Is Moving to the Unexpected
Sharon Bradford

People don't usually associate ballet with the music of Prince and Stevie Wonder, but Complexions Contemporary Ballet isn't interested in replication. "We are not afraid to entertain," says Co-Artistic Director/Co-Founder Desmond Richardson.

Hailing from New York City, Complexions Contemporary Ballet was founded in 1994 by Richardson and Dwight Rhoden--two directors who both value multiculturalism as well as breaking artistic barriers. Their focus is to be continuously evolving, a group that changes with the culture and time. Their success in doing this has brought them such honors as the New York Times' Critics Choice Award.

Rhoden, the company's resident choreographer, has worked with The Joffery Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and The Dance Theater of Harlem.

"Dwight often begins his creative process with the music, which informs what he has to say...the current social climate also affects the work at times," says Richardson, former principal dancer with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, and Ballet Frankfurt. "I assist in the studio by workshopping movement before we teach it to the dancers," says Richardson, who also choreographs on occasion.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Is Moving to the Unexpected
Complexions Contemporary Ballet

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"[Complexions] is a fusion of traditional ballet and modern movement...but this performance will not have the women dancing en pointe," says Richardson. Among the 12 dancers performing in the concert is Houston native Ashley Nicole Mayeux; see her in an excerpt from the ballet Testament which uses a score of traditional gospel hymnals.

Further on the bill is Head Space, a brand new work featuring music by Grammy Award winning New Orleans jazz musician Terence Blanchard. Also supplying a brassy soundtrack is On Holiday, a movement celebration of American Jazz music. 1994's Solo, originally danced by Richardson himself, has been re-staged for this production and is performed to tunes by pop music icon Prince. Inversions pays tribute to singer Stevie Wonder.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet presented as part of Houston's Society For the Performing Arts season will be at the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater for one night only on February 20; the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$80. For information call 713-227-4772 or visit

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