Desmond Richardson (Co-Founder, Co-Artistic Director)
Desmond Richardson was the first African-American principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre and is hailed by The New York Times as one of the greatest dancers of his time. Nominated for a Tony Award for his role in the original Broadway cast of Fosse and deemed a standout in the Tony-Award winning production After Midnight, Richardson is highly esteemed by the concert dance and American theater community. He appeared in Twyla Tharp’s Broadway production Movin’ Out, and had his singing debut in Burt Bacharach’s and Hal David’s The Look Of Love, choreographed by Ann Reinking and Scott Ellis.
Richardson has appeared on celebrated stages across the world, namely The Metropolitan Opera, The Kennedy Center, Paris Opera, The Bolshoi Theatre, The Mariinsky Theatre, The State Kremlin Palace, Teatro Massimo, and Teatro alla Scala. He has been a member and invited guests of prestigious companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Frankfurt Ballet, Royal Swedish Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, to name a few.
Richardson, a Young Arts Finalist and Presidential Scholar, has received numerous awards including the Dance Magazine Award, Capezio Award, Ailey Apex Award, L.A. Ovation Award, Bessie Award, YoungArts Alumni Award, and most recently the Roosevelt “Rosey” Thompson Award presented by the Presidential Scholars Foundation. In the spring of 2109, Richardson received an honorary doctorate degree from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in recognition of his extensive contributions to the field of dance.
Richardson has been a celebrity guest performer and choreographer for productions across media such as the American Music Awards, the Academy Awards, City Center’s Encores! series, Italy’s AMICI, and international franchises of So You Think You Can Dance. Richardson has been featured by famed artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Elton John, and Aretha Franklin, and he appears in celebrated films such as the Oscar-Award winning Chicago, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, and the recent independent film, Fall to Rise. He has worked with fashion icon, Tom Ford, Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and recently contributed to Grammy-Award winning Jill Scott’s video Back Together, which features dancers from COMPLEXIONS. Internationally and domestically, he is a master teacher for dance programs such as the New York’s All Stars Project, YoungArts Miami, United Way, The Pulse, NYCDA, and ASH. He served as co-creative director and choreographer with David Monn for the Park Avenue Armory Gala Masquerade. Richardson is currently a guest artist in residence at USC’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and is the visiting adjunct professor of dance at Southern Methodist University.
Dwight Rhoden (Founding Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer)
Dwight Rhoden has established a remarkably wide-ranging career, earning distinction from The New York Times as “one of the most sought out choreographers of the day.”
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Rhoden began dancing at age 17. Rhoden has performed with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal, and as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 1994, Rhoden and Desmond Richardson founded COMPLEXIONS Contemporary Ballet. They have brought their unique brand of contemporary dance to the world for over two decades. Under Rhoden’s direction, COMPLEXIONS has become a dance institution high in demand, as a center for innovation and cutting edge programming.
Rhoden’s choreography has been the lynchpin of the development of COMPLEXIONS repertory.“Musicality, innovation, purpose, consistency, brilliant use of stage space and the ability to tell a story—all these qualities make [Rhoden] one of today's elect choreographers”(Los Angeles Times). Since 1994, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for COMPLEXIONS, as well as for numerous other companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Arizona Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, BalletMet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Colorado Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New York City Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, PHILADANCO!, Mariinsky Ballet, Minneapolis Dance Theater, Phoenix Dance Company, Sacramento Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, The Washington Ballet, and Zenon Dance Company, among others.
Rhoden has also directed and choreographed performances for shows across a range of media, including So You Think You Can Dance, E! Entertainment’s Tribute to Style, Amici, and Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity, and he appeared in the feature film One Last Dance. He has collaborated with a number of celebrated artists, including Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Kelly Clarkson, ELEW, David Rozenblatt, Nicholas Payton, The Drifters, Paul Simon, Billy Strayhorn, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, U2, The Turtle Creek Chorus, and Patrick Swayze.
Rhoden is a recipient of various honors and awards including The New York Foundation for the Arts Award, The Choo San Goh Award for Choreography, and The Ailey School’s Apex Award. Rhoden received an honorary doctorate degree from the Boston Conservatory in recognition of his extensive contributions to the field of dance. In 2020, Rhoden will premiere 2 new works for the company’s New York City season at The Joyce Theater.
James Giacopelli (Co-Founder/CEO)
James is the CEO and Co-Founder of Complexions Academy LLC. James serves on several private and non-profit Company Boards, including the Board of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Additionally, he is a Partner at Giacopelli Accounting and Tax Service, LLC where he is an Enrolled Agent specializing in small business development and tax services. James is experienced in handling all manners of accounting and is familiar with Federal and State Accounting and Tax Laws. His work in finance, advertising, fashion, the arts, and entertainment throughout the United States has developed his insight and instinct on monetary and business affairs. As a volunteer for the Internal Revenue Service, James aided the elderly and advocated for the underprivileged by handling their tax needs. Beyond his work in business affairs, James devoted over a decade to youth athletics, serving as the CEO for Simple Soccer in Flushing, NY and as the Director of Operations for Rye Youth Soccer, in Rye, NY. In these roles, he was a critical component for running one of the largest and most successful youth organizations in Westchester County. During this time he contributing as a coach and mentor to the youth participants.
Sumaya Jackson (General Manager)
a native New Yorker began her dance training at age six at The Ailey School. Upon graduating with her International Baccalaureate from The Dwight School, she furthered her dance training at The Juilliard School, where she received her B.F.A. Sumaya continued to dance in NYC with Kyle Abraham and Janis Brenner & Dancers. While freelancing, Sumaya worked for Magnolia Bakery and worked closely with president, Bobbie Lloyd. During her 8 years at Magnolia, Sumaya was the General Manager for four locations and assisted with franchising training overseas in the Middle East. Sumaya began working for COMPLEXIONS in the summer of 2017. She oversees COMPLEXIONS’ Summer Intensives as well as the operations of the company.
Clifford Williams (Academy Faculty)
Clifford Williams began his dance training at F.H. LaGuardia High School of Art and the Performing Arts. He attended The Ailey School and The School of American Ballet, both on scholarship. He was a first-level recipient of a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts award in 1998. In 1998, he attended The Juilliard School, where he danced works by many choreographers including Lar Lubovitch, Igal Perry Hans Van Manen, Jose Limon, and Mauricio Wainrot. In 2001, he was invited to join the Dance Theatre of Harlem, where he danced until 2003.
In 2004, Mr. Williams joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet (New York, NY). He has danced works by Dwight Rhoden, William Forsythe, Nicolo Fonte, and Jae Man Joo. Since 2004, Mr. Williams has assisted Director/Choreographer Dwight Rhoden on numerous projects including ballets for North Carolina Dance Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, The Diana Vishneva Project, Ballet San Jose, Israel Ballet, Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma as well as for the television show "So You Think You Can Dance." He has also set Dwight Rhoden's works on The Ailey School/Fordham University, Boston Conservatory, Harvard University, Marymount University and NYU Tisch School for the Arts. In addition to setting works for Dwight Rhoden, Williams is certified in teaching “Nique” the official Contemporary Ballet technique of Complexions Contemporary Ballet; and continues to be a part of educational outreach for Complexions. In 2008, Mr. Williams left Complexions to dance as a Principal dancer with Compañia Nacional De Danza under the Direction of Nacho Duato. During that time, he danced many principal parts and was featured in creations by Mr. Duato. Mr. Williams rejoined Complexions in 2009, where he danced as principal until 2012 before being appointed to an artist in residence. In 2014 Williams was featured in Debbie Allen’s “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” as the Title character which aired on BET Network. He is also part of Award-winning Chicago, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, and the recent independent film, Fall to Rise. He has worked with fashion icon, Tom Ford, Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and recently contributed to Grammy-Award winning Jill Scott’s video Back Together, which features dancers from COMPLEXIONS.
Internationally and domestically, he is a master teacher for dance programs such as the New York’s All Stars Project, YoungArts Miami, United Way, The Pulse, NYCDA, and ASH. He served as co-creative director and choreographer with David Monn for the Park Avenue Armory Gala Masquerade. Richardson is currently a guest artist in residence at USC’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and is the visiting adjunct professor of dance at Southern Methodist University.
Natiya Kezevadze (Academy Faculty)
Natiya Kezevadze started her training in Classical Ballet at V. Chabukiani State Ballet School in Tbilisi, Georgia. At age thirteen, she was afforded the privilege of being accepted to the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet on full scholarship and moved to St-Petersburg, Russia. While at the Academy, Natiya performed on the celebrated Mariinsky Stage in ballets such as Swan Lake, La Bayadere, La Sylphide, Chopiniana, Nutcracker, Giselle, Legend of Love to name a few. Ms.Kezevadze graduated from professor T. Udalenkova receiving a BFA and was invited to join Boris Eifman Dance Company. Natiya was also a soloist with Ballet Classic, Saint, Petersburg, Russia and moved to NYC in 2004 to further pursue her performing career. In NYC she continued her training with many notable dance masters including Milton Myers, Donald Byrd, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Nathan Trice, Elisa Monte, Joe Lanteri and numerous others. Natiya has appeared in New York International Festival’s “Icarus”, Ballet Builder’s “Passing Thru”, Eglevsky Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and “Antigone”. She was also a featured model in a promotional video “Entropy” for Trienawear Dancewear. In 2005 Natiya joined Forces of Nature Dance Theater Company, under the direction of Abdel Salaam, where she continues to dance today. Additionally, Ms.Kezevadze became a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (CCB) in 2007 and had the amazing opportunity to tour worldwide performing widely acclaimed works by Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Igal Perry, Jae Man Joo. In 2012 Natiya and her husband, Ilia, welcomed the birth of their daughter Vivi. Ms. Kezevadze left life on the road with Complexions to focus on motherhood. She then found time to embrace her love teaching both classical and contemporary ballet. Ms. Kezevadze has the pleasure of teaching for The Complexions Intensive Program, the Joffrey Experience in NYC and the Broadway Dance Center. She has also acted as the assistant choreographer with the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute and for Dwight Rhoden’s original international production of the Great Gatsby Ballet.
Today, Natiya is honored to continue performing with CCB as an artist in residence as well as collaborating in various dance projects.
Jillian Davis (Academy Faculty)
Jillian Davis is a Kutztown, PA native, and began her ballet training at the age of 3. She studied extensively with Risa Kaplowitz and Susan Jaffe at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio in Princeton, NJ. Jillian has attended San Francisco Ballet, School of American Ballet, as well as Pacific Northwest Ballet and LINES Ballet, both on scholarship. In 2013, she developed the Jillian Davis Dance Project, her choreography commissioned by Missouri Valley College. Her piece, Tiel, was featured at Jennifer Muller’s Hatched Series and was selected as a finalist for Rider University’s Emerging Choreographers Showcase. Jillian has been a company member with Complexions since 2014. She has been part of several Dwight Rhoden world premieres, including Headspace, Strum, Gutter Glitter, Star Dust, and Bach 25. She has also performed installation works by Desmond Richardson and an excerpt of Approximate Sonata by William Forsthye.