When Complexions Contemporary Ballet performs Saturday at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, concertgoers will get a taste of what it means to be free — to dance that is.
Known for breaking barriers, the 14-member troupe is a melting pot of dancers with an innovative approach. Melding dance forms and cultures are cornerstones of the New York-based troupe, founded by former Alvin Ailey dancers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. Their Miami performance will showcase three recent and contrasting choreographies.
“Speaking a universal language, which is dance, that is our mission,” says Complexions’ associate artistic director and choreographer Jae Man Joo. “Our vision has always been a multicultural coming together on one stage.” After two decades, Joo says there are no gimmicks. “It’s about giving your all artistically.”
The show begins with Moon over Jupiter, a fantastical and highly athletic pointe ballet piece that centers on love and human connection. Choreographed by Rhoden, it’s set to music by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov. But “don’t expect the Nutcracker,” Joo says.
Joo’s own Recur is the second and darkest of the three works, an avant-garde navigation of the bumps along life’s journey, he says.
The third piece, Innervisions, is an upbeat, modern-dance tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder.
While Complexions dancers have the required classical ballet training, the company represents a pool of styles, and dancers are encouraged to add their own flair.
Dancer Edgar Anido brings signature classical Cuban training to the mix. Anido studied at the National School of Ballet and with the Camagüey Ballet. He relocated to Miami in 2004, and worked with the Ballet Gamonet before joining Complexions in 2008.
“The great challenge is how we can marry all of this together,” says Joo, a native of South Korea who joined the company in 2006. “I really like exploring the movement, and it’s important for dancers to find their own voice and put their input to the music. It’s a process of collaboration with the artists.”
Since its inception in 1994, Complexions has become one of the country’s foremost multicultural dance companies. It has also been a first professional stop for a number of renowned dancers including the Alvin Ailey Company’s Alicia Mack Graf and Jamar Roberts.
The troupe has toured internationally, from Japan to Egypt, Russia to Brazil. Miami is its third stop in Florida before heading to Tampa.
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