Happy New Year!
My dance education blog, Dance Advantage, has kept me on my toes. And did I mention I’ve been doing some freelance work for the Rockettes website, too? It’s about time I get some of my more recent dance writing work on this blog.
So, I’m kicking off January with some links to the past to catch up to the present.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet Ready To Rock Houston
What does a dance company have in common with U2, one of rock music’s biggest acts?
With a big smile on his face, Dwight Rhoden quips, “I think dancers are rockstars”.
Rhoden’s New York City company, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, is about to rock… and roll through Houston on October 14 with a program that includes musical accompaniment big and bold enough to blow off the Wortham’s roof: The Rolling Stones, Roy Buchanan, “The Hallelujah Chorus,” and, of course, U2. The evening will close with Rise, a work set entirely to tunes from the Irish rock band’s catalog.
Rhoden gets no argument here about the exceptional qualities of dancers. However, as I see it, the troupe he founded with dancer Desmond Richardson in 1994 is like U2 in other ways, too. Both have accessibility and wide appeal, traits which some in their respective fields dismiss as if it were harder to be obscure. Both groups resist being bound by or excluded from the circles of commercial and “high” art. Both even have a frontman (in Complexions’ case, Richardson) who can command a stage like few others.
World premiere of inventive Tapestry highlights Houston Ballet’s “Rock, Roll & Tutus”
If any company can rock a goofy strut and some tutus made of air conditioning filters it’s Houston Ballet. They proved it at the opening of “Rock, Roll & Tutus” last week.
The program, which includes the world premiere of artistic director Stanton Welch‘s Tapestry plus two ballets previously performed (Rooster and Divergence), continues with three performances Friday through Sunday.
Marquee aside, Welch planned for Tapestry to be the antithesis of rock and roll as he set it to Mozart‘s Violin Concerto No. 5. While it showcases the rock star qualities of violinist, Denise Tarrant, the only thing “in your face” about this ballet is the talent of the company.
Daring, inventive and occasionally just plain jaw-dropping partnering punctuates the entire first section during which dancers appear in a muted tangerine and blue. To the delight of the audience, Karina Gonzalez is tossed between Connor Walsh and Ian Cassidy like a wisp of smoke — particularly sweet-scented smoke.
Houston Contemporary Dancesquared
No, The Stoners and The Metronics are not emerging indie-rock bands.