The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is one of Connecticut’s few venues still prioritizing dance as a major component of its annual programming. Aiming to offer programs that showcase a broad range of dance styles and genres, Jorgensen starts strong with its upcoming performance by Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
Scheduled for Feb. 3, the event will begin with an artist reception at the Jorgensen Art Gallery. Unbeknownst to many, Jorgenson not only stages live performances but also houses three to four major art exhibitions each year, requiring a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work by Jorgensen’s staff.
“Artists are not available all the time. You have to somehow catch them at just the right time and then figure out how to juggle everything around and work it into a season. It’s not an easy task and you have to work 12-18 months in advance of any given season,” Jorgensen executive director Rodney Rock said in an email.
The gallery opens this year after a 23-month hiatus, kicking off Black History Month with Ashanté Kindle’s “A Dream Transformed.” Kindle, an MFA candidate at UConn’s School of Fine Arts, will be introducing a series of abstract paintings inspired by the waveforms of natural and styled Black hair. As a celebration of Black culture, the exhibit will be running until March 25.
Following the artist reception is Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s “Bach to Bowie.” Complexions was founded by male dancers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richard, who originally made their mark as principal dancers at the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Both artists have been dancers since childhood, mastering the complexity of classical ballet, along with vastly different styles like hip-hop and jazz.
“You combine all that expertise with their creative energy and you have a contemporary ballet powerhouse known as Complexions,” Rock said.
“ARTISTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME. YOU HAVE TO SOMEHOW CATCH THEM AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME AND THEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO JUGGLE EVERYTHING AROUND AND WORK IT INTO A SEASON. IT’S NOT AN EASY TASK AND YOU HAVE TO WORK 12-18 MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF ANY GIVEN SEASON.”Jorgensen Exec Director, Rodney Rock
The choreography is an untraditional yet utterly captivating blend of contemporary and ballet — fitting for the music featured in “Bach to Bowie.” The two-act performance is not only a showcase of dance but also one of music. The first act, entitled “Bach 25,” is inspired by Baroque composers Johann Sebastian and Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach. The second act, “Stardust,” takes a dramatic and transformative turn, acting as a tribute to David Bowie and all things rock.
“These are two pieces at the opposite ends of the musical spectrum. And yet, somehow, in the end, there was an attraction at some level that made sense to pair them into a single program,” Rock remarked.
After the show, audience members can participate in a live Q&A session hosted by some of the company’s dancers for a chance to get to know the group further.
Doors open at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3, and tickets ranging from $15.00 to $35.00 are currently available for purchase at the Jorgensen Center website. Following Complexions Contemporary Ballet, is an exciting February lineup including “A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul” and “Music for Two Pianos,” a UConn SFA Faculty Showcase.