Contemporary ballet

Complexions Contemporary Ballet will summon the spirit of David Bowie with “Stardust”

Dwight Rhoden grew up listening to David Bowie, even imitating him, standing in front of mirrors with a hairbrush in the 1970s. He remained a huge fan throughout his own journey of co-creating Complexions Contemporary Ballet, a touring troupe of stellar, crowd-pleasing dancers now 25 years old.

Pretty much coincidentally, says Rhoden, he was building a new dance with Bowie’s music before his idol’s death in January 2016. “I don’t pretend to be an icon, but I like the idea of ​​moving with the genres, styles and textures,” explains the choreographer. “He was truly a chameleon, with a new character almost every time he released new music. And the music is so alive.

The Society for the Performing Arts is bringing “Stardust,” the nine-song tribute that debuted in 2016, to Houston on Saturday as part of a program Rhoden calls “Bach to Bowie.” The 15-member Complexions company will also perform Rhoden’s most recent “Bach 25”, an exploration of love and alliances, harmony and discord, inspired primarily by the music of one of his favorite classical composers, Johann Sebastian Bach. “It’s so danceable,” he says.

The same goes for Bowie’s songs which he chose after an agonizing editing process. He kept familiar hits that he thought would create a sonic and thematic arc: “Changes”, “Life on Mars”, “Space Oddity”, “1984”, “Heroes”, “Modern Love”, “Rock n’ Roll Suicide” and “Young Americans”.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Or: Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana

Details: $35 to $80; 713-227-4227, www.spahouston.org


Rhoden’s dance begins at the end, in a way, with “Lazarus”, taken from the Bowie album released a few days before his death. And rumor has it that there’s a choreographed curtain call to the song that’s most expected at a dance concert.

Rhoden says he wasn’t trying to make a story about the star’s life, but a rock opera “with lots of pageantry and performance”.

Laser lights and a disco ball create a dynamic atmosphere, but the glittering costumes and makeup are more about evoking a spirit and showing off perfectly toned bodies than recreating the man. Likewise, the main dancers represent Bowie’s avatars and lip-syncing lyrics — a device that Rhoden admits is hard to pull off — but they’re also conceptual. Maybe they’re as much about the millions of other Rhoden and Bowie fans as they are about the rock star.

“There’s a bit of David Bowie in all of us,” says Rhoden. “He really was the Everyman.”

Rhoden’s dances are known for their intensely layered movements and skin-tight athleticism. He advises against reading too much of Bowie’s legend. “Sometimes we just want to be simple and entertaining and fun,” he says. “There’s a lot of movement, and we’re going to be wagging our tails and having fun. It doesn’t have to be dark and brooding.

OK, I understood. Let’s go dancing.

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Twitter: @mglenzer