Also directing: Complexions Contemporary Ballet, as well as instructing in the Joffrey Experience, and NYC Ballet Intensive.
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the great modern dancers of his time”, Desmond Richardson is a multi talent artist who has mastered a wide range of dance forms including classical, modern, and contemporary. Richardson’s immense talent was first recognized as a student at New York High School for the Performing Arts during which time he received a merit scholarship from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (1983-1986) and the International Academie des Tanz in Koln, Germany (1984-1985). He is also a recipient of a Presidential Scholar Award for the Arts (1986).
In 1987, Richardson joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where he was a principal dancer for seven years. After leaving the Ailey Company, he traveled to Germany where he performed with Ballet Frankfurt. Richardson has performed as a guest artist with several world-renowned companies including the Swedish Opera Ballet, the Washington Ballet, Teatro at La Scala, and the San Francisco Ballet.
In 1997, he joined the American Ballet Theater where he performed the lead role in the company’s world premiere of Othello. Following his performance, the New York Times described him as “one of the most majestic dancers ever to tread the MET Stage.”
In 1998, Richardson joined the premiere cast of the Broadway Musical Fosse for which he received a 1999 Tony Award Nomination. He has also appeared on Broadway in the musical, the Look of Love and the critically acclaimed Movin’ Out. He had a principal role in Debbie Allen’s theatrical presentation, Soul Possessed, which premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1999.
Richardson has worked in television, film, and video in the United States and abroad. These experiences have allowed him to perform with musical artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Madonna. He is featured in Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi’s film, One Last Dance and the Oscar winning Chicago. He made his singing debut in Charles Randolph Wright’s 2005 film, Preaching to the Choir and performed the lead role of Beowulf in Julie Taymor’s Grendel at the LA Opera as well as in Taymor’s film, Across the Universe. He recently performed as a guest artist on So You Think You Can Dance in Australia and the United States.
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.
Desmond Richardson is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the extraordinary Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company.
In an interview with Dance Informa, Desmond states that we have PBS to thank for getting him into dance.
“My mom says I was always moving as a kid. So once I saw the documentary on PBS on Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to learn how to do that.’ I’d begun doing street dance and hip-hop, but I still had no formal training at the time. That was my moment when I decided I wanted to dance and be like Rudolf Nureyev. I was 11 years old.”
Connect with Desmond on social media.
Facebook – @desmond.richardson.dance
Instagram – @desmondrich7
LinkedIn – desmond-s-richardson
Twitter – @DesRich