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Two's company: dance and life partners Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson mark gay pride season with the 10th anniversary of their acclaimed company, Complexions.

It was on gay pride weekend 1994 that Dwight Rhoden and his life partner, Desmond Richardson, premiered their stunning dance company, Complexions. Now they've chosen New York's gay pride week as the backdrop for the troupe's 10th-anniversary season performance at Manhattan's Skirball Center, June 21-26. "We want to celebrate all that this company is, and New York is on fire that week," says Rhoden.

Rhoden, an internationally acclaimed contemporary choreographer, and Richardson, a Tony award nominee for Fosse, founded the troupe on the ideal of diversity of movement, using dancers of various races and sexual orientations. "We wanted to bring the uptown to downtown and meet in midtown," Rhoden quips. Getting to midtown involves ballet, modern, and hip hop styles, not to mention singing and multimedia presentations.

The result? "It's a now company," says choreographer-actor Allen, who serves on the company's advisory board. "The title Complexions is so right, because it represents a mix of so many types of people and such a comprehensive vocabulary of dance styles. I am a big fan of who they are and who they are yet to be."

Rhoden and Richardson are one of the dance world's premier power couples. They've been inseparable for 16 years. Dancing side by side in the Alvin Alley American Dance Theater, they became intimate onstage and off. "We started off as friends--but I had ulterior motives all along," says Rhoden with a sly grin.

Richardson, who grew up on the streets of Queens, N.Y., jumped psychological hurdles in compiling his impressive resume, which includes a guest stint creating the title role in American Ballet Theatre's full-length ballet Othello.

"Being black and gay in the black community is a double whammy--but only if you carry that," Richardson points out. "If you can just be who you are, then that's it. It took me a long time to get to that place."

Their relationship has helped Richardson and Rhoden create a ferociously physical dance style with impressive formalist craftsmanship. "Even when I don't try to, I choreograph my life--what I'm going through, what I'm frustrated with, happy about, satisfied with," says Rhoden. "Our relationship has gone through various stages. When a piece is done I can be embarrassed, because I feel as though I've exposed myself."

For this gay pride season Rhoden is premiering his latest work, Anthem. A ballet in three movements for 20 dancers, set to a musical collage including selections by Jimi Hendrix, the work displays Richardson and the ensemble in a dynamic, muscular mode.

"These performances are a celebration of us and our company," says Richardson.

"We're running a company we feel is pretty fabulous," Rhoden adds. "I'd like it to be known that there are two gay men who are using their art to tell a story."

Carman also writes for The New York Times.
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Title Annotation:dance
Author:Carman, Joseph
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:471
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