Complexions Contemporary BalletThe brain child of Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, returns to Melbourne for a limited season only featuring a series of mostly new, but some old works from the ensemble’s 15 year history. With its dancers oozing sheer athleticism and the programs boasting über post-modern style, at the end of the first program, (Routines, 2008) the audience is fittingly asked, are you ready?

There is extra buzz surrounding the ensemble’s 2009 visit because of its closing program, Rise, set to a medley of hits by leading rock band, U2. In an awesome whirlwind of movement (and nervous excitement which at times compromised the unified passages of choreography), the entire company shifts into energy overdrive adding texture to the messages of the well known lyrics. The result is, put simply, pretty spectacular.

Complexions is a dance concept to be reckoned with. The multi-talented Rhoden and Richardson (who performs in the 2009 line up) each possess a fierce attention to detail both in their choreography (that filters down to every last muscle movement) as well as a cognisance of the power of storytelling as a mechanism to explore social issues. This pointed focus extends to the carefully selected music, from the heart wrenching vocals of Odetta in Gone (2000), the beautiful composition by Richardson in Fall (2008) to the classical intensity of Handel on harpsichord in Momentary Forevers (Excerpt 2007), as well as the adept use of the large State Theatre stage and the lighting thereof.

In a recent interview with Katherine Kizilos, Rhoden revealed “One thing we tell the dancers is that once you have conquered that part of it, the details, now it's time to make the work accessible. It has to be real to you. When it's real to you, it's real to the audience. You break down the fourth wall …”. Indeed, the 16 technically brilliant dancers from varying backgrounds take ownership of the intoxicating mix of extremely polished movement, inspiring vision and transform it into engaging, raw emotion.

It is abundantly clear from the design and construction of this show that the artistic directors and their supporting team breathe and believe the company’s mission, and this passion is perpetuated by the dancers in their execution on stage. This, in and of itself, is captivating.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Artistic Directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson

Venue: the Arts Centre, State Theatre
Dates/Times: 26 February- 7 March 2008 at 7:30pm
Duration: 150 mins, 2.5 hours
Tickets: $89.00 - $39.00
Bookings:*, 1300 136 166*, the Arts Centre Box Office or Ticketmaster outlets. *transaction fee applies

Festival Theatre
When: 10 – 12 March, 8pm
Cost: Premium $80, Adult $65 / $55 / $45, Concession $60 / $50 / $40, Groups $60 / $50 (6 or more tickets), Student $30
Bookings: BASS on 131 246 or online at

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