Complexions: Dancing to diversity's beat

5:53:11 AM CDT - Thursday, October 07, 2004

By Shannon Littlejohn

When New York City's Complexions dancers fly into town this month, Wichitans will be treated to a contemporary ballet company of the highest caliber, said Nick Johnson, director of WSU's dance program for the School of Performing Arts.

Artistic Directors Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, both former principal dancers for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, have created Complexions Contemporary Ballet with a vision for sharing diversity and multiculturalism through dance. They've enlisted some of the most gifted dancers in New York City, said Johnson.
"They have a whole new approach to choreography that is totally their own," he said. Plus, Complexions brings together artists of different cultures, races, sizes and backgrounds.

It's Complexions' emphasis on excellence, professionalism and multiculturalism that drew WSU's dance program to select Complexions for the College of Fine Arts Connoisseur Series.

"I think the community deserves this caliber of entertainment," Johnson said. The Connoisseur Series is underwritten by The Boeing Co. and the Annie Foundation, among many other community partners, with a mission of exposing the Wichita community to outstanding performances from touring artists.

"The series also gives the image in the students' minds of what we're training them for, to see the star they're shooting for," said Johnson. In Complexions' case, a master class offered by members of the dance company the Friday before the performance will enhance the students' experience even further.

Complexions' co-directors have been hailed by Tobi Tobias, New York Magazine as "two of the most gorgeous virtuosos ever to emerge from Ailey Land."

Richardson, who performed the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre production of "Othello," was described in a New York Times review as "one of the most majestic dancers ever to tread the Met stage." He also received a Tony Award nomination for his dancing in the Broadway musical "Fosse" in 1998.

The Times has called Rhoden, whose résumé is also impressive, "a star of a different type, one who slyly captures the spotlight, with pristine clarity, intensity, and passion."

For more about Complexions Contemporary Ballet, visit

Complexions Contemporary Ballet performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at Century II Concert Hall in downtown Wichita. Tickets are $25, $15 and $10; call 978-3233. The performance is rated G.


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