Three exciting contemporary works, including newly created pieces by Complexions Ballet co-founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson and by Associate Professor Christopher Dolder, will be presented at SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Fall Dance Concert, November 8-12 in the Bob Hope Theatre at SMU.
The program opens with Dolder’s new version of Bolero, set to a London Symphony recording of Ravel’s famous work. With its circular stage space, curving ramps and central spire, Bolero is equal parts architectural art and biomechanical physics experiment. This movement laboratory provides the physical backdrop for dancers representing an array of societal archetypes perennially caught in the cycles of life and culture. The interactive set, bathed in video-projected imagery, compels these characters to accelerate, ascend and literally vault into space in feats of virtuosic toroidal motion. A former soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Dolder has always had a fascination for architectural design. His Handle (2014), Metropolis (2015) and collaboration with Canadian wood sculptor Erik More in The Orca Project (2016) have each expanded the boundaries of his forays into dance and interactive set design and laid the foundation for this novel approach to Ravel’s masterwork.
The program continues with Ascension, a new piece created by Visiting Artists-in-Residence Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, founders and co-artistic directors of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Ascension exemplifies the seamless blend of ballet and contemporary dance expressed in virtuosic, sculptural choreography that has made Complexions world renowned. The company has received numerous awards, including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award, and has toured the globe, performing at Lincoln Center and The Joyce Theater in New York, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and most recently at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of “Ballet Across America.” Celebrated for his choreography and wide-ranging collaborations with well-known dance artists, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for Complexions and for numerous other major companies. Richardson is a Tony-nominated actor and the first black American principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre.
Concluding the program is Moncell Durden’s Drop Me Off in Harlem, a tribute to the music and dance of the 1930s. Premiered earlier this year, it uses vernacular jazz movement to recount the adventures of three ladies from Pennsylvania who travel to New York City to dance at the famous Savoy Ballroom and watch the battle of the bands between Benny Goodman and Chick Webb. The audience follows Norma, Mabel and Dawn as they navigate the spirited streets, subways and ballrooms of New York and Harlem nightlife. Durden is a choreographer, historian, dance educator and current faculty member at the University of Southern California, where he teaches jazz, hip-hop and improvisation.
Fall Dance Concert performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff. The Bob Hope Theatre is located inside the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 or click here.