Complexions Turns 20

Mayeux in the studio. Photo by Ani Collier, Courtesy Sin Gogolak.

 

For the last two decades, Complexions Contemporary Ballet has shown an exciting and edgy side of ballet. This continues into their 20th-anniversary season (running now through Nov. 30 at The Joyce in NYC) with a program including a mix of company classics, as well as two world premieres by Dwight Rhoden and a work by American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with company member Ashley Mayeux as she prepped for the ambitious season.

Dwight Rhoden's Head Space is one of the world premieres this season. How would you describe it?
It is chaotic at moments, but it's also very soft at times. Complexions usually projects to the audience, but in this ballet, Dwight wanted us to be more introverted because we're trying to represent something that's inside of your thoughts.

Certain nights you're performing Head SpaceHissy Fits andInnervisions. What advice would you have for dancers about getting through a long program like that?

You need a lot of focus and a lot of rest, and smart dancing. We have rehearsal all day before the show. Usually they would like us to do everything full-out, but we have to be able to deliver a great show for the audience that night. Most of the time, we try to practice the hardest things we need to first and then do a smart mark-through in tech rehearsals. 


Do you have any tricks that help you get through a long performance?
Well, they have lots of candy for us backstage just in case your energy level gets low. But usually I just like to keep going. Sometimes it's hard to do one piece in the beginning and then not do a second act and then try to get back into it. So it's actually good that I'm doing three straight acts. 

How have you seen yourself grow since joining Complexions in 2012?
I've made a 180-degree change. Dwight and I have had this conversation. When I first got there, I struggled so much to get the style. But with time and getting to know what Dwight wants, getting to know the company and finding friends that could help me through, I really changed the way I work. Now I'm not so worried about what people are thinking because everyone in the company is supportive of my choices and can help me make the right choices about what I want to say onstage.

For even more interviews, tips, audition info and giveaways, sign up for our FREE e-newsletter.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The Anatomy of Arabesque: Why Placement and Turnout Are Key to Achieving This Crucial Position

Audition for any school or company, and they'll likely ask for a photo in arabesque. The position not only reveals a great deal about a dancer's ability, but it is also a fundamental building block for more advanced movements, like penché or arabesque turn. Beyond technique, it can be the epitome of grace and elegance onstage, creating unforgettable images—just try to imagine Swan Lake or Balanchine's Serenade without an arabesque.

Yet many dancers are unsatisfied with their arabesque lines, and students frequently ask how to improve their extensions. (Social media posts of dancers with extreme flexibility don't help!) In an attempt to lift the back leg higher, dancers may sacrifice placement and unknowingly distort their position in the process. How can you improve the height of your back leg while maintaining proper placement and turnout? We talked to a few experts to better understand the science behind this step.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks