Ashley Mayeaux of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (Rachel Neville)
Complexions Contemporary Ballet graced the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this past weekend here in Los Angeles. Founded in 1994 by Co-Artistic Directors Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, they didn’t shy away from their company name.
There are 15 dancers in the company, which created an intimate feeling, and you were able to see what each dancer brings to the group. All pieces were choreographed by Rhoden, who infused their classic training on pointe, juxtaposed with silky smooth movements. The opening piece “Ballad Unto…” established who they are as a troupe and set the tone to music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Feeling like one of their more formal pieces, the audience saw the ballet in full force combined with very modern movement.
After a brief intermission, the next act had five shorter pieces that are all vastly different. However, Rhoden did carry a theme throughout the evening that created a longing for a bit more variety. “Gone,” performed by Nehemiah Spencer, Timothy Stickney and Kelly Marsh IV felt strong and powerful as the three men danced a tug of war together. “Cryin’ To Cry Out” and “Choke” were both duets, one a male and female duo, while the latter was two men furiously gliding and leaping across the stage. Another male and female duet was “Testament,” that felt very Alvin Ailey-inspired. Set to a gospel version of “Amazing Grace,” Andrew Brader and Ashley Mayeux were both captivating.
The final piece in the second act was a highlight. Having its L.A. debut, Richardson himself danced “Imprint/Maya” to music by David Rozenblatt with Maya Angelou’s words. His impeccable control and strength were mesmerizing. Getting to see him dance is always a gift.
After Richardson received a standing ovation, there was a final intermission before their last dance, “Innervisions,” which was set to a montage of Stevie Wonder music. This last dance was fantastic, getting the audience involved with clapping and tastefully shouting to the dancers. There was so much joy on the stage, and each new Stevie song brought back a memory as they came in and out onto the stage. Coming out for their final bows dancing to the music, Rhoden and Richardson joined them at the end.
The company has been around since 1994, however, they still feel young, not quite 100-percent ripe, creating a yearning for a tad more seasoning. There were some standout dancers among the troupe like Ashley Mayeux, whose long lines and extension were nothing short of brilliant. Also Timothy Stickney was someone to watch as he grooved along to Stevie Wonder with swag and confidence. Looking forward to seeing what direction they will take next.