Complexions Contemporary Ballet performs <em>Stardust</em>

Review: Complexions Contemporary Ballet | TITAS | Moody Performance Hall

They Can Be Heroes

Complexions Contemporary Ballet finally brought its David Bowie tribute, Star Dust, to Dallas, courtesy of TITAS.

published Thursday, November 15, 2018


Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Complexions Contemporary Ballet performs Stardust


Dallas — David Bowie’s death in 2016 spurred Complexions Contemporary Ballet artistic director Dwight Rhoden to create ballet tribute to the late, great rock legend. Star Dust premiered later that year, and the company released an excerpt reel showing a varied, promising work. Their recent visit to the Moody Performance Hall in Dallas to close out the 2018 side of TITAS’ season fulfills every expectation and then some.

But first, Bach 25. A 40-minute dance to an assorted mix of the Baroque composer’s work highlights the company’s emphasis on athleticism, from the movement to the costumes to the lighting. The curtain opens on the music with dancers already moving under warm downlights. Minimally dressed in skin-colored attire (leotards for the ladies, shorts for the men), they maneuver through Rhoden’s signature vocabulary while executing extremes shapes and delicious suspensions. Articulate petit allegros easily sit alongside typical contemporary postures and movements.

The dancers switch moods as the songs change. A wistful piano signals somber gestures with welcomed moments of stillness and reflection, while cello notes later on bring a more playful tone. A powerful choral number matches beautifully with large traveling sequences, and one would think it’s the big finish, especially since it ends with a blackout. The lights come back up on a men’s quartet with less energized music. Since the other sections run seamlessly together with the stage remaining illuminated, the abrupt blackout and energy change make the work feel longer.

Likely, the perception of time is also influenced by anticipation, because many in the audience have no doubt been eagerly awaiting the second act for a good part of the year. Nine Bowie songs deliver a variety of moods, and Rhoden weaves together a satisfying combination of choreography, acting, and visual effects for an inspiring, fun tribute.

Upstage lights create a disco ball effect for a dramatic opening. More lights reveal dancers in brightly-colored sleek costumes, including leotards, leggings, and asymmetrical variations of both. Brilliant, glittery face paint completes the effect. The most fascinating aspect is that each song has a different dancer lip syncing the song, bringing a different performance quality to the contemporary vocabulary.

In addition to movements that frequently appear in Rhoden’s choreography, quirky gestures and playful transitions add depth and personality. A gold streamer curtain appears for a few of the songs, and its upstage placement allows for striking entrances and exits. Exhilarating leaps and slides into splits create the expected thrilling moments, while the increased use of stillness and range in timing dynamics make the work as a whole truly pop.

It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite section, but “Heroes” stands out a bit more than the others. Against the mesmerizing Peter Gabriel cover version, the dancers execute deliberate, articulate movements while connecting with each other. It’s one of the most human segments in the piece.

Other sections allow dancers to shine, individually and as an ensemble. Tim Stickney explodes in a flashy “1984,” and Jared Brunson struts around for “Life on Mars.” Jillian Davis proves stunning throughout. “Space Oddity” displays lovely moments, while “Modern Love” presents a toe-tapping, jazzy party. “Young Americans” ends the work, and the audience bursts into thunderous applause before the curtain closes. Spirits stay lifted, as the dancers genuinely have fun with the choreography and exude an infectious enthusiasm. It’s a work that begs multiple viewings. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
They Can Be Heroes
Complexions Contemporary Ballet finally brought its David Bowie tribute, Star Dust, to Dallas, courtesy of TITAS.
by Cheryl Callon

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :