His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth
reviewed by Deanna Blacher
Complexions Contemporary Ballet would have been a largely unknown quantity in this part of the world before its opening night on Tuesday. But anyone coming away from its first performance at His Majesty’s Theatre is unlikely ever to forget it – and for all the best reasons.
Led by co-founder and principal dancer, Desmond Richardson, (who will surely join the ranks of the great American modern dancers of the 21st century) astounded, astonished and inspired this reviewer. Complexions reveals a strikingly different world of dance, in which hitherto unknown levels of technical accomplishment become the norm.
These extraordinary bodies are poetry in motion. What distinguishes them from so many other good dancers is that their technique, all encompassing as it is, remains the servant of their musicality, passion and artistry.
Dwight Rhoden, the company’s founder and resident choreographer, could hardly be better served by these very special dancers. Their training allows them to convey the illusion of honey in their limbs, rather than bones, especially the hips. They meet every technical and interpretative challenge head on, sailing through the most complex of dance vocabulary with the nonchalance of mastery.
Highlight of the evening was Desmond Richardson’s unprogrammed solo, Moonlight, which comes across as a distillation, a summing up, as it were,,of everything the company stands for and is.
Superhuman control, phrasing, timing, passion, originality and an ability to draw and hold the attention of the viewer add up to memorable dance theatre in which the whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.
The opening ballet – Moon Over Jupiter – to music by Rachmaninoff was for me the most intriguing and satisfying of the works performed on opening night.
Athleticism and sheer virtuosity, especially in some very innovative solos and pas de deux , gave this work an edge that was highlighted by the exposed lighting rig in a design by Michael Korsch.
Notwithstanding a view that a bigger stage was needed for the playing out – and appreciation of – the complexities of these splendid choreographies, this production succeeded at every level, especially in the manifold ways in which the music was interpreted, to highlight the various strengths and differences of the dancers. They are made to work as a tightly knit unit, but retain their individuality.
An exposed lighting rig featured in all the presentations and seemed to surmount the technical limitations of the theatre’s stage without difficulty, thus adding immeasurably to the worth of each choreography .
In so many-splendoured an offering, it would be invidious to single out individuals for special mention – but it would be ungracious not to mention Patricia Hachey who shone in everything from Rachmaninoff to Billie Holiday and U2, displaying a versatility that was breathtaking.
I noted with interest that the company has in its repertoire the works of other choreographers apart from those of its founder, Dwight Rhoden.
Apart from occasional lapses in timing and a sometimes too-loud and distorted sound track, this will be an evening that will be remembered long after the applause dies away.
Can we hope for a return visit of this very special company to give us an even broader view of their artistry?