On Stage: Patricia’s New Complexions

Complexions, perhaps the most visible contemporary ballet company right now, is in town this weekend. Click on my Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article for further details. It boasts the trendiest choreographer around (Dwight Rhoden), a must-see male dancer (Desmond Richardson) and some of the best movers to be found.

But there is an added bonus for Pittsburgh dance fans. Former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre corps member Patricia Hachey can be spotted among the swirling landscape of dancers (and smack in the middle of the photo above). The Montreal-born dancer gravitated to the PBT school for three years and graduated to the company for seven years. I caught up with her last year in Washington D.C. when Complexions was appearing at George Mason University.

The lithe, sophisticated dancer with a vibrantly red pixie haircut (it’s a little longer now) was a total surprise to me, given the quiet brunette that danced at PBT. Although Patricia always had a soft spot for contemporary dance while in Pittsburgh, she has clamped onto Dwight’s choreography with a new-found fierceness.

It was quite a transition moving from the more classically-oriented PBT philosophy to bending classic dance at Complexions, something she talked about openly.

“I was used to moving around and starting over,” she says over the phone. “but I was a bit nervous because this transition meant a new job, a new city, making new friends. Pittsburgh had become very comfortable and safe for me and I’d grown quite fond of it.”

Now she lives in Brooklyn and heads to company class every day with ballet master Jae Man Joo, or assistant ballet mistress Sabra Perry, or even once in a while with Dwight. “I was fortune that I had worked with him at PBT,” she notes. “I knew what to expect in term of style.”

She knew that he used the strengths that dancers have, hence his reputation as a “dancer’s choreographer.” But he also wants a dancer that takes more chances and doesn’t hold back. “It helped me to grow a lot.”

But Patricia is still glad that she had the classical background and the roles that PBT artistic director Terrence Orr gave her. She recalls that, even while in the PBT school, she was able to work with choreographer Kristopher Storey’s more agressive contemporary style. “Right away it worked for me,” she says. “I could express myself more. But I wanted to do tutus and pink tights.”

That being done, she was ready to immerse herself in the Complexions philosophy to “take chances, take risks, make it your own. We have more freedom to explore and it’s kind of fun to be able to play that more.” That being said, Patricia admits that it “puts more responsibility on the dancers in a way — it’s a real challenge.”

But she admits that the high energy and off-center sparks found in Dwight’s choreography means that she has to take care of her body. She found it in Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga” and performed in a room with extreme temperatures. “It’s very regimented and uses twenty-six positions,” Patricia explains. “But it realigns my body after absorbing Dwight’s style all day.”

She also trusts herself more, “because both Dwight and Desmond are very good at bringing that out in a dancer — they see the potential.” They also “push” and are “intimately invested in every single dancer. It puts more pressure on you. If you want to coast, this isn’t the company for you.”

Doing Complexions’ repertoire goes a long way to keep her in shape, Patricia confesses. And the hefty travel schedule is demanding. “It may be a bit extreme, but this is the time to do it.”

Patricia (red hair) can be found in the center of the top photo. The Complexions promotional video features her with pixie haircut and she dances in second video with Desmond Richardson on So You Think You Can Dance.

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