White Bird Launches 20th Anniversary Season with Dynamic Complexions


What: Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Presented by: White Bird
When: Thursday – Saturday, October 5-7, 7:30 pm
Where: Newmark Theatre, Portland’5, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland, OR
Sponsors: Ken & Ann Edwards, The Oregonian
Tickets: Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office,
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees.
Discounts available for groups/students and seniors.

“Complexions…combining power and passion– groundbreaking”
-Dance Magazine

White Bird kicks off its 20th anniversary season of contemporary dance from around the world with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, based in New York City and founded by former Alvin Ailey stars Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson. The company has received worldwide acclaim for its fiercely kinetic movement and impassioned, almost superhuman dancers and has been featured on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” Complexions returns to White Bird at the Newmark Theatre with a powerful program set to music from J.S. Bach to David Bowie October 5-7, 2017. A special treat will be a solo by world-acclaimed dancer and Complexions Co-Founder Desmond Richardson.

The program will begin with Ballad Unto…, originally choreographed for Tulsa Ballet by Dwight Rhoden. Ballad Unto… is set to  Johann Sebastian Bach and showcases bold and sprawling emotionality, as seven couples interact in an intimate abstraction of love. Following Ballad Unto… will be IMPRINT/ MAYA, a solo danced by Desmond Richardson and set to the indelible words of the late Maya Angelou with vocals by Melanie Nyema. Choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, Richardson’s forceful movement piece conveys a struggle that comes from within, combining a street vernacular with a classical articulation to express verse and rhyme in a solo of truth.

The second half of the evening will be Stardust, the first installment of Dwight Rhoden’s full evening length Ballet tribute to the genre bending innovation of one of the prolific Rock Stars of our time – David Bowie.  This Ballet takes an array of Bowie’s hits and overlays a dazzling visual imprint, inspired by his unique personas and his restless invention artistically – to create a Rock Opera style production in his honor.  With Bowie’s 40+ year career and 25 Albums that stretch across musical borders Stardust pays homage to the iconic and chameleonic spirit of the legendary singer and songwriter.

Complexions was founded in 1994 by Master Choreographer Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson with a singular approach to reinventing dance through a groundbreaking mix of methods, styles and cultures. Together, Rhoden and Richardson have created in Complexions an institution that embodies its historic moment, a sanctuary where those passionate about dance can celebrate its past while simultaneously building its future. In the 25 years since its inception, the company has born witness to a world that is becoming more fluid, more changeable, and more culturally interconnected than ever before—in other words, a world that is becoming more and more like Complexions itself.

The company’s foremost innovation is that dance should be about removing boundaries, not reinforcing them. Whether it be the limiting traditions of a single style, period, venue, or culture, Complexions transcends them all, creating an open, continually evolving form of dance that reflects the movement of our world—and all its constituent cultures—as an interrelated whole. Complexions has toured on 5-continents, to over 20-countries, to over 20-million television viewers and to well over 300,000 people in live audiences.

 Dwight Rhoden Founding Artistic Director/resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet,  has established a remarkably wide- ranging career, earning distinction from The New York Times as “one of the most sought out choreographers of the day.” A native of Dayton, Ohio, who began dancing at age 17, Rhoden has performed with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal and as a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As a performer, he has appeared in numerous television specials, documentaries and commercials throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and has been a featured performer on many PBS Great Performances specials.  Since founding Complexions in 1994, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for Complexions, as well as numerous other companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New York City Ballet, among many others. Mr. Rhoden has also directed and choreographed for TV, film, theater and live performances including So You Think You Can Dance, E! Entertainment’s “Tribute to Style”, Amici, and Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity.

Desmond Richardson, the first Black American Principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre, received a Tony award nomination for his role in the original cast of “Fosse” on Broadway, as Principal character Tony in Twyla Tharp Broadway production “Movin Out,” and a standout in recent Tony award winning Broadway production After Midnight. With his technical virtuosity and statuesque expressive demeanor, he has been hailed by the NY Times as among the great dancers of his time. Lara Hartley poetically described him on the Ballet Magazine website as “Moving Sculpture, a body that is art, passing through time and space with power and grace – all parts connected , never stopping but heart stopping in beauty.” Richardson has been a principal member and an invited guest with some of the most prestigious companies domestically and internationally such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Frankfurt Ballet, Mariinsky Theater, Teatro a La Scala, The Washington Ballet and The San Francisco Ballet and more.

White Bird’s 20th season (2017-18) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; Work for Art; The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Ronni Lacroute, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Starseed Foundation, and WESTAF

White Bird Launches 20th Anniversary Season with Dynamic Complexions