Complexions Contemporary Ballet Finds Inspiration In Miami

Nov 5, 2015

There's a  building off Biscayne Boulevard near downtown Miami that looks like a giant stained glass box.

It’s home to the National YoungArts Foundation,  and the organization, which helps foster the careers of promising young artists, is inviting artists to come into the space and create.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet is the first dance company in residence at YoungArts, and the New York-based troupe is finding inspiration inside the box -- and out.

Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions,  says it’s been a spiritual experience being able to create and move in the jewel box.

Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, stretched before rehearsal inside the YoungArts "jewel box."
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

  “In all of its intricate colors and iridescent colors it really informs the soul and spirit,” he says.

The jewel box glitters with mosaic glass on all four sides with deep greens, light blues and rich reds.  The glass design shows the rum-making process. The building used to be the Bacardi headquarters. But in this square-shaped room turned dance studio, it’s inspiring choreography.

Richardson, a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and American Ballet Theater, is also a YoungArts alum.

He co-founded Complexions in 1994 with Dwight Rhoden, who also danced with Ailey. They wanted to blur the lines between ballet and other types of dance.

Rhoden, who is also the resident choreographer for Complexions, created a dance called Chronicle during the two-week residency in the jewel box. The piece touches on themes of compassion and  current events in the Middle East and tensions between police and communities of color  state-side.

He was still making adjustments to the choreography on a recent afternoon. And some of those changes depend on how he feels about the light filtering through the mosaic glass in the room.

“It really does change my inclination of where I’m going to go next, just the way the light comes into the space a little bit,” he said.

The dancers also say there’s something about being in this jewel box, and here in South Florida.

For Melissa Anduiza, this is home. Anduiza graduated from New World School of the Arts high school and her parents still live here. 

"It’s always really special to come home as a YoungArts alumni coming to the Young Arts building," she said.

Terk Waters, another company member, says  for him it's not a personal connection, but being in Miami and in this vibrant creative space moves him.

“You know you walk outside in  New York and you see gray and black, brown,” said Waters.  “And South Florida, there’s definitely it’s own color palette,  which puts you in a different head space creatively, artistically.”

Complexions will perform excerpts of its new work  Chronicle and other pieces from the company’s repertoire Saturday in a free performance

If You Go:

Outside The Box

Young Arts Plaza, 2100 Biscayne Blvd

Saturday, Nov. 7

7-9 p.m.

RSVP online: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/complexions-contemporary-ballet-youngarts-outside-the-box-series-tickets-18823143529