Choreographers are often fueled by the last dance they made, so for the vigilant viewer watching how one bleeds into the next can be an enthralling way to follow an artist’s career. Dwight Rhoden, who along with Desmond Richardson is a founding artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, quelled that notion on Tuesday with his two-part “Chronicle,” in which he takes inspiration from an older dance to create an evening-length work.
Beginning with the premiere of “When Hell Freezes Over” and ending with a new staging of the 2009 work “Mercy,” the resulting “Chronicle,” part of the company’s season at the Joyce Theater, feels more like a case of cut and paste than a fully realized work. Of the two acts, the first explores the effects of war with a program note that reads, “Heads of State with distant toys, can wreck our lives, and kill our boys.” The second grapples with absolution and attaining spiritual peace.
In “When Hell Freezes Over” the idea of violence is a constant thread. Andrew Brader stands center stage with a hand raised in salute; but as his arm lowers his disenchantment becomes clear. Terk Lewis Waters, a dancer who displays flexibility but little more, crosses the stage with an ominous air. Is it his characterization or his movement, a constant flow of reaching arms with a torquing spine, that makes him so indistinct? Throughout Mr. Rhoden’s tenuous narrative he continues along the same choreographic path.
As couples meet for brisk partnering interludes — there is more a sense of being captured than tenderness — Mr. Brader seems haunted by the memory of a lover. Repeatedly, he meets Ashley Mayeux for a kiss, and repeatedly they are pulled apart by the others. In the end, five men are sprawled on the floor as if to show that death and war are interchangeable. As the others walk away slowly the curtain falls.
The concluding “Mercy” is laden with spiritual references — as well as moments seemingly borrowed from dances by Alvin Ailey and Ohad Naharin — yet reveals little grace. Separately the dances are monotonous enough; placing them side by side only emphasizes their uniformity. In his “Chronicle,” Mr. Rhoden’s penchant for elastic legs, quick entrances and exits and a preponderance of poses from both sexes, but mainly the bare-chested men, ends in an unsatisfying place: the land of false endings.
Adapted from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/arts/dance/review-complexions-contemporary-ballet-recycles-with-chronicle.html?ref=topics