Many choreographers have been blessed to have a muse who inspires their best efforts. Balanchine famously had several of them and each one added something vital to the repertory. A very precious few of those muses inspire a whole new type of movement vocabulary and dance companies are even built around them. Desmond Richardson is Dwight Rhoden’s muse and he’s the reason for the existence of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. That’s both good and bad. The good part is that Richardson has had the benefit of a choreographer who has dedicated his career to creating works on him that are tailor made for his particular gifts. Make no mistake, he is one of the greatest dancers ever to grace the stage and much of the work they have done together is brilliant. But Richardson doesn’t perform as much as he used to even though he remains stunning enough to conjure up William Blake’s great poem:
"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Three pieces in the middle of the program began with Cryin’ to Cry Out which gave us two sweet pas deux of which the one with Ashley Mayeux and Andrew Brader was the better although the choreography was not memorable in either case. Approximate Sonata was the work by William Forsythe which pretended to be a pas de deux cum rehearsal. It featured fine dancing by Jillian Davis and Terk Waters but the parts that were supposed to indicate that they were rehearsing seemed false and fell flat. They’re dancers, not actors, and it showed. The last of the three central dances gave the audience what they came for: stellar Desmond Richardson. He delivered a mesmerizing solo called Imprint/Maya. It was so powerful that it made me aware of how perfectly he's able to realize Rhoden's choreographic vision. Desmond Richardson is a once in a lifetime dancer. In order for the company to continue to grow in the long term they are going to have to learn to live and choreograph without Richardson dancing.
Strum, set to music by Metallica closed the show. I liked the premise but not the realization. These are really strong dancers and this kind of power chord rock and roll should have played to their strength. Regrettably it came across more as lightweight show dancing than heavy metal dancing. The technique of lighting from directly overhead was especially effective. People were running everywhere and throwing a lot of muscle at this piece but in the end, there was too much energy and not enough substance.
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