Contemporary ballet

Complexions Contemporary Ballet finds inspiration in Miami

There’s a building on Biscayne Boulevard near downtown Miami that looks like a giant stained glass window.

It is home to the National YoungArts Foundation, and the organization, which helps foster the careers of promising young artists, invites artists to enter the space and create.

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

Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions, says it has been a spiritual experience to be able to create and move in the jewelry box.

Credit Nadege Green/WLRN



Desmond Richardson, co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, stretched before rehearsal inside the YoungArts “jewel box”.

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

The jewelry box shimmers 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 was once Bacardi’s headquarters. But in this square room that has become a dance studio, it’s the choreography that inspires.

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

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 Complexions’ resident choreographer, created a dance called Chronicle during the two-week residency in the jewelry box. The play addresses themes of compassion and current affairs in the Middle East and tensions between the police and communities of color on the side of the state.

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 room’s glass mosaic.

“It really changes my inclination as to where I’m going to go next, just the way the light enters the space a bit,” he said.

The dancers also say there’s something to be in this jewelry box, and here in South Florida.

For Melissa Anduiza, it’s home. Anduiza graduated from New World School of the Arts and her parents still live here.

“It’s always very special to come home as a YoungArts alumnus 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,” Waters said. “And South Florida definitely has its own color palette, which puts you in a different headspace in a creative, artistic way.”

Complexions will perform excerpts from their new work Chronicle and other pieces from the company’s repertoire on Saturday during a free performance

If you are going to:

out of frame

Young Arts Plaza, 2100 Biscayne Blvd

Saturday November 7

7-9 p.m.

RSVP online: