Student Blog: Rhoden and Williams teach “Hissy Fits”

September 11, 2017


Clifford Williams goes over "Hissy Fits" choreography with BFA freshman Camryn Pearson | Photo by Mary Mallaney

By Rose Ritch

Dwight Rhoden‘s “Hissy Fits” has left my mind in a tantrum. I would be a complete liar if I said this work was easy to dance. From its complexly-layered music to difficult choreography and partnering sequences, each rehearsal has been a new challenge. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been an enjoyable experience. As someone who comes from a very classical, traditional ballet background, every day my mind has been exposed to new ways of moving and interpreting music. I think I speak for all of my fellow freshman when I say each rehearsal has been an adventure, and it would not have been possible without the help of our Complexions repetiteurs: Clifford Williams, Dwight Rhoden, and Desmond Richardson.

Rhoden: the choreographer/creator explains his process

“Hissy Fits,” choreographed by Rhoden, founding Artistic Director and resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, examines the intricacy of relationships and the pain and bliss that comes with them. The choreography communicates this through each moment and step. Dwight, who we have been fortunate enough to work with this past week, has been an invaluable source of information. Not only has he clarified or adjusted steps to our bodies, but he has also given us details about his thought process through the piece’s conception. These tidbits of intricate elements, from how he heard the music to the shape he was trying to project, have overwhelmed us with information regarding every note, small transition step, and torso movement. It has been an honor to work with Dwight and absorb the knowledge he has to offer.

Richardson: brief rehearsals, big information

Although we only worked briefly with Desmond Richardson, he was also a wonderful fountain of information. A former dancer with, as well as co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions, he has been instrumental in the success of the dance company. He emphasized greatly the importance of creating a dialogue between our partners and encouraged and inspired us to go on our own emotional journey. Desmond was extraordinarily supportive, but also very honest, treating us in a very professional manner. In his short time with us, he gave us the tools and materials needed to encase ourselves in “Hissy Fits” and discover the ballet’s intention.

Williams: steps, strength, and patience

Lastly, the whole freshman class owes everything to Clifford Williams, who is responsible for teaching us the bulk of the ballet. Clifford began working with us on our second day of classes. With endless limbs, a dry sense of humor, and fast-paced teaching style, he commanded our attention immediately. He held each of us to high standards and demanded everything from us physically and mentally; we all left rehearsal every night exhausted. But to balance this, his youthful energy made us all feel comfortable–Clifford was extremely understanding and kind. In addition, as a former dancer of Complexions, he had performed several different roles in the ballet several different times. Because of this, he was able to offer priceless insight on approaching choreography and musicality. Each of the freshman is grateful for the time Clifford put into staging “Hissy Fits;” from people dropping him (yes, that did happen a few times) to our fascination with his breathtaking dancing and demonstration, we sometimes weren’t the most focused group. These three weeks, however, have been nothing but an invaluable source of knowledge and guidance in this whirlwind of a piece. Let’s hope he doesn’t have a hissy fit after spending so much time with us!