DT: APRIL 6, 2021
FM: MITCH SCHNEIDER/ANDREA FAULK, SRO PR
THE WORLDS OF DANCE AND ROCKABILLY
COME TOGETHER IN “GATHER ROUND,”
THE FIRST ITERATION OF A FULL-LENGTH BALLET BY
“COMPLEXIONS CONTEMPORARY BALLET” TO THE MUSIC OF
LEE ROCKER OF THE STRAY CATS
“GATHER ROUND” HAS BEEN COMMISSIONED BY
THE LAGUNA DANCE FESTIVAL
AND WILL BE WORLD PREMIERED ONLINE
STARTING APRIL 25 AT 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Photo credit: Katie Mollison
The worlds of dance and rockabilly uniquely come together in “Gather Round,” a collaboration between LEE ROCKER of The Stray Cats fame and the award-winning COMPLEXIONS Contemporary Ballet featuring three songs from the Grammy-nominated upright bass player, singer and songwriter’s current solo album Gather Round. This first iteration of a full-length ballet by COMPLEXIONS using the music of ROCKER has been commissioned by the Laguna Dance Festival and will be world premiered online as a free event starting April 25 at 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET (Laguna Dance Festival). Watch the trailer here. The full-length ballet, for which other details are TBA, will be performed in 2022 in Laguna Beach, CA (venue TBA).
“Gather Round” will be presented in three short duets to Rocker’s songs: “Gather Round,” “The Last Offline Lovers” and “When Nothing’s Going Right.” It’s a rousing, tongue-in-cheek nod to the timeless genre that is Rockabilly. The piece finds its inspiration musically “in the pocket” of the rhythm and soul of Rocker’s spinning double bass, and distinct vocals. “Gather Round” is a colorful expression of movement that connects, expresses, and celebrates the joy of living life, in all of its complexities.
“I’m thrilled and honored that the complexions modern ballet company has chosen to choreograph and dance to music from my newest album Gather Round,” says LEE ROCKER. “In previous years, Complexions has created groundbreaking performances featuring the music of David Bowie and Lenny Kravitz. Thank you for the incredible choreography, dancers, and concept. The team of Dwight Rhoden, Jodie Gates, Desmond Richardson, Brandon Gray and Larissa Gerszke have truly captured the essence and emotions of my music in a unique and innovative way.”
“‘Gather Round’ is choreographed by Dwight Rhoden, Founding Artistic Director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, of which Broadway World has written: “Complexions is breathtaking in its appropriate irreverence and indisputably glorious entertainment value. For what it is rather than what it’s not. It is one of the finest of Contemporary Ballet Companies in America.”
“Desmond Richardson (Assistant To The Choreographer) and I have been big fans of Lee’s work for a long time,” says Dwight Rhoden, “and I have always wanted to create a ballet to his music. Thanks to both Lee, Jodie and the Laguna Dance Festival, Complexions finally gets that chance. Dance and Rockabilly music have always been a perfect match in my mind, but actually getting into the studio and watching the dancers get swept away by the pulse and thump of his music, has been so rewarding. The spirit of Lee’s new record “Gather Round” is contagious, and so inspiring.”
Jodie Gates, Founder and Artistic Director, Laguna Dance Festival, says: “When we set out to commission a new work in the middle of a pandemic, we could not have imagined bringing together a more exciting group of artists. Lee Rocker’s new music ‘Gather Round’ combined with exquisite dancers from Complexions and the stylish choreography by Dwight Rhoden is a multidisciplinary celebration of what the future for the arts can look like as we move together into the world of live theater post-pandemic. The world premiere of the video April 25th is just the beginning of a longer work we are committed to commission from these artists in the 2022 Laguna Dance season in Orange County.”
“Gather Round” Credits:
Choreography: Dwight Rhoden
Music: Lee Rocker
Costume Design: Christine Darch
Filmed by: Jacob Hiss
Edited by: Jacob Hiss & Dwight Rhoden
Assistant to the Choreographer: Desmond Richardson, Clifford Williams
LEE ROCKER, photo credit: Jet Luna
About LEE ROCKER:
Lee Rocker made his mark singing, playing, standing on, spinning and rocking his giant upright bass in the legendary music group The Stray Cats. Grammy-nominated, The Stray Cats have sold nearly 10 million albums and garnered an astounding 23 gold and platinum certified records worldwide. Founded by Rocker, Brian Setzer, and Slim Jim Phantom, The Stray Cats remain a radio staple, were music video pioneers at the infancy of MTV, and repeatedly brought rockabilly music to the top of the charts. From the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, to appearing on Saturday Night Live, to headlining music festivals and touring with the Rolling Stones, Lee Rocker has seen and done it all. In addition to The Stray Cats and the Rolling Stones, Rocker has toured and performed with George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and John Fogerty. In 1982, Rocker and his father Stanley Drucker
, (classical clarinetist) both received Grammy nominations; this was something that has only occurred twice in the history of the Grammy Awards. In 2012 Lee appeared on Broadway in the hit musical “Million Dollar Quartet” and in 2014 he was inducted into the Bass Player Hall of Fame. Rocker has received numerous honors for his contributions to music and the arts, including being inducted to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and he is a recipient of the Visionary Artist Award by the City of Laguna Beach California. Lee Rocker and his band look forward to touring again and performing Stray Cats hits including “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut” and “Sexy and 17” as well as slamming renditions of songs from his many solo albums. In January 2021, Rocker released a new solo album Gather Round on Upright Records (his label distributed through Orchard).
About COMPLEXIONS Contemporary Ballet:
Complexions was founded in 1994 by Master Choreographer Dwight Rhoden and the legendary Desmond Richardson with a singular approach to reinventing dance through a groundbreaking mix of methods, styles and cultures. Today, Complexions represents one of the most recognized, diverse, inclusive and respected performing arts brands in the World. Having presented an entirely new and exciting vision of human movement on 5-continents, over 20-countries, to over 20-million television viewers and to well over 300,000 people in live audiences, Complexions is poised to continue its mission to bring unity to the world one dance at a time.
Complexions has received numerous awards including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award. It has appeared throughout the US, including the Joyce Theater/NY, Lincoln Center/NY, Brooklyn Academy of Music/NY, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts/New Orleans, Paramount Theatre/Seattle, The Music Center/Los Angeles, Winspear Opera House/Dallas, Cutler Majestic Theater/Boston, New Victory Theater/NY, and Music Hall/Detroit, The Bolshoi Theater, The Kremlin, The Mikhailovsky Theater, Melbourne Arts Center, and will made it’s debut at the Kennedy Center in 2017, as a part of Ballet Across America.
Additionally Complexions has appeared throughout Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Russia, New Zealand and South America.
Together, Rhoden and Richardson have created in Complexions an institution that embodies its historical moment, a sanctuary where those passionate about dance can celebrate its past while simultaneously building its future. In the 27 years since its inception, the company has born witness to a world that is becoming more fluid, more changeable, and more culturally interconnected than ever before—in other words, a world that is becoming more and more like Complexions itself.
About Laguna Dance Festival
Since 2005 the award-winning Laguna Dance Festival, based in Laguna Beach California, has presented world-class dance performances in theaters, on film, and public spaces, reaching thousands annually, and exposing new audiences to professional concert dance. Laguna Dance Festival is a nonprofit organization deeply dedicated to the arts and community. The organization is committed to collaboration, dance presentation and education through an artistic lens that strategizes innovative ways to commission artists, educate young dancers and unite people of all ages and cultures. Previous festival lineups have featured national and international companies and artists including Ballet BC, Malpaso, RUBBERBAND, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Parsons Dance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet West, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Black Grace, BalletX, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Abraham.In.Motion (A.I.M.), BODYTRAFFIC, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and artists from San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet and New York City Ballet, among many others. In addition to its mission to present world-class dance performance and increase public appreciation for the art, Laguna Dance Festival is committed to the highest quality dance education and provides opportunities for aspiring artists through master classes, workshops, intensive programs and scholarships.