Contemporary ballet

COMPLEXIONS CONTEMPORARY BALLET at Joyce is a mirror of our ever-changing world

It’s weird and wonderful to be in the theater again. These days everything looks different – the way you enter; Identity documents and vaccination cards in hand, security guards keeping everything in order. But once I walked into the Joyce Theater to see Complexions Contemporary Ballet, everything felt perfectly familiar. Art loving friends, buzzing, expressing their excitement and passion behind masked faces. A compilation of contemporary music flooded our eardrums before the show started. Perhaps an unexpected choice on first listen, but as ‘Losing My Religion’ played, it all made perfect sense to frame what we were about to see.

The world premiere of “Snatched Back from the Edges” opened the program with fury and finesse. A solo dancer took the stage, his muscles sculpted by a single spotlight. As he moved through space, more dancers appeared and more spotlights turned on and off. The movement was both jerky and fluid, keeping pace with a haunting 6/8 score. A meditation on the importance of dynamics – hard and soft, light and dark – “Snatched Back from the Edges” explored the essential question: What do we sacrifice and what do we give as human beings? Complexions’ classic choreographic patterns were all current gravity-defying leaps, spiral leans, dramatic spins in the air. But they were complicated by the current cultural cacophony of “destroying our kingdom.” Faced with the racial and social inequalities of our country, the company danced with a spellbinding collective chaos that left me speechless.

“Love Rocks” closed the show. Set to a fiery score of several Lenny Kravitz songs, the piece explored all the intricacies of what love is – what it means to love and be loved in return. A punk rock escapade, the costumes were campy and fun, and showcased a completely different side to these incredibly talented dancers. There was a lightness in the movement and in their facial expressions that juxtaposed the heavy and very intense choreography. There were minor timing inconsistencies, but in a weird way, the imperfection made it all that much more human and perfect, in the end.

RUN, don’t walk, to see this incredible company of dancers.

Photo credit: Rachel Neville