Sunday, February 22, 2004

Super group Complexions makes local debut next Sunday

Dance notes

By Kathy Valin
Enquirer contributor

New York's high-voltage Complexions, headed by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, makes its first appearance in Cincinnati at 8 p.m. next Sunday at the Aronoff Center. Get tickets ($20, $30 and $45) at 241-7469.

Rhoden's choreography pulsates with energy and pure sensual heat to music ranging from Bach and Bartok to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Stevie Wonder. Rhoden says "Complexions to me is about bringing together dancers with diverse backgrounds and styles. ... Racially and ethnically, the company is very multicultural. We do everything from pointe work and modern to text and improvisation."

Many Cincinnatians, Rhoden included, are already familiar with the phenomenal dancing of Richardson, a veteran of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Richardson has danced as guest soloist in Cincinnati Ballet's mixed repertoire evenings, and has performed twice in ballet tech ohio's Gala of International Ballet Styles. On Broadway, he's starred in Fosse and The Look of Love.

Richardson says Complexions dancers must be not only virtuosic, focused and fearless, but also "open to different ways of moving. Their bodies must engage the space around them and each other. They must put their passion to the forefront, and they must shine."

On the bill are excerpts from Rhoden's new Anthem, The Clearing, which will premiere in New York in June. The full company work was inspired by the events of 9-11. "Red" is forceful, aggressive and non-stop. "White" is danced to classical pieces. Richardson will perform a solo to music by Prince. Company gems like "Sweet Low Ride" and "Ave Maria" are also included.

Many of the Complexions dancers will appear as celebrity guests at the Love the Arts Celebrity Dinner Dance and Silent Auction Saturday, hosted by the ballet tech ohio performing arts association (683-6860).

Clear Stage workshop

Clear Stage Cincinnati offers its First Annual March Madness Regional Fight Workshop March 13-14 at the Cincinnati Ballet studios, 1555 Central Parkway. The event is coordinated by Regina Cerimele-Mechley, choreographer of fight scenes in Cincinnati Ballet's Romeo and Juliet.

Cerimele-Mechley and other teachers certified by the Society of American Fight Directors will tackle subjects like Super Takedowns, Kali Double Stick, Wing Chun and Sword & Shield.

More information is available at 237-4958, or register at

Frederic Franklin visit

Octogenarian and Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director Emeritus Frederic Franklin was in town during the recent run of Romeo and Juliet. Not only did he appear on stage as Friar Laurence, but he also found time to work with Ballet Mistress Johanna Bernstein Wilt on the historic reconstruction of Massine's "Seventh Symphony," to Beethoven, scheduled for next season.

Seventh Symphony, which debuted in 1938, was last performed in its entirety by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo more than 50 years ago. Its energetic, reconstructed third act garnered international attention when it was performed as part of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo Festival last season.

Still very much in demand, Franklin, a witness and participant in ballet history, credits his amazing memory for learning and remembering steps.

"It's part of the reason I got started. As a young man, I went to an audition in Liverpool for one of the boys at the Casino in Paris. A woman showed me the tap steps for three hours. The next day she said 'Where did you learn all those steps?' 'From you!' I replied. You see, she thought I had done extra rehearsals. But I just was very good at picking up."

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