The dream team

Complexions will perform a mixed bill by the company’s celebrated choreographer.

April 15, 2011 16:16
3 minute read.

Complexions 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In the 2009 remake of the classic cult film Fame, Alice, played by Kherrington Payne, decides to forgo graduating high school in order to join what she considers “the best modern dance company in the world.” In an impassioned monologue, she explains to her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend that joining the troupe is a once-in-alifetime opportunity she can’t possibly turn down. The company that lured her away from her teenage sweetheart and the joys of donning a cap and gown was Dwight Rhoden’s Complexions Contemporary Ballet. This month, Complexions will pay their second visit in two years time to the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center for three performances.

This year Complexions is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

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For the amount of attention it receives in the media papers and in the dance community, this seems like an awfully short amount of time. However, the creative energies generated by choreographer Dwight Rhoden and former life partner and star dancer Desmond Richardson have stirred up a whirlwind of pirouettes, pointed toes and flattering reviews.

Richardson has been a major player in the international dance community for the past three decades. He is the picture of physical perfection, a technically superior dancer and engaging performer. Prior to Complexions, he enjoyed stints in the world’s most renowned ensembles, including the American Ballet Theater and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In addition, he has performed extensively on Broadway, most notably in Fosse, and was one of the lead dancers in Rob Marshall’s film version of Chicago.

Life before Complexions was equally dynamic for Rhoden. Originally from Ohio, Rhoden was a member of Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (which will also visit Israel later this year) and of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

He was considered to be a strong, intense dancer with excellent facility and powerful stage presence.

It was during this period, while both were performing in professional companies, that Rhoden and Richardson met.

They quickly became recognized as a solid unit and a major force in the international dance community…a dream team.

When the two first met, Rhoden had not yet officially discovered himself a choreographer. Though his dance experience honed his understanding of composition, he had yet to create his own work. He began by trying out ideas on Richardson, who was an ideal canvas for Rhoden’s creative blasts.

What grew between them in the coming years were a deep love and a truly unique artistic collaboration.

They were a couple, partners in the studio and on stage, and the artistic directors of a new, exciting company. Then, five years ago, Rhoden and Richardson separated.

Though their personal relationship changed dramatically, Complexions remained relatively unaltered.

For its 2011 visit to Israel, Complexions will perform a mixed bill of works by Rhoden. In total, excerpts from five pieces, all choreographed in the past five years, will be shown. Though the company has been criticized for making mainstream dance, Rhoden’s use of popular music often allows audience members to connect more easily with his work.

The musical score for this program ranges from neo-classical to modern, including Rachmaninoff, the Rolling Stones and U2.

Many of the dancers in Complexions hail from major ballet troupes. Thus any Complexions show is worth taking in, if not for the artistry, then for the superb capabilities of the cast. These are truly elite performers, anyone will tell you. No wonder Alice from Fame was willing to drop everything to join up with them.

Complexions will perform at TAPAC on April 25- 27. For tickets, call (03) 692-7777 or visit

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