Desmond Richardson

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Desmond Richardson, opening of Life Ball 2013

Desmond Richardson is an American dancer, co-founder and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He has mastered a wide range of dance forms including Hip Hop, classical, modern, and contemporary Ballet.

He remained the principal dancer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1987 to 1994.

Life and career[edit]

Richardson's talent was first recognized as a student at New York High School for the Performing Arts.[1] During which time he received a merit scholarship from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (1983-1986) and the Internationale Akademie des Tanzes in Köln, Germany (1984-1985). He is also a recipient of a Presidential Scholar Award for the Arts (1986) from YoungArts .

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 was a principal with Frankfurt Ballet. 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 1996, he joined the American Ballet Theatre where he performed the lead role in the company's world premiere production of Othello and quickly was promoted to become the First AFRICAN AMERICAN Principal dancer since the inception of the company. 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: The songs of Burt Bacharach , City Center Encores , Movin' Out and most recent The Tony winning hit show AfterMidnight.

He has appeared on TV shows as a celebrity performer and choreographer for SYTYCD, Amici( Italy), Israel( SYTYCD), Australia(SYTYCD), Larry Rosen Jazz Roots where he and Grammy Artists Bobby Mcferrin performed an impromptu improv to an astounded audience in Miami at the Adrienne Arsht performing Arts Venue.

Richardson is a multifaceted Artist, he continues to perform worldwide and is consider an incredible Master Teacher , a faculty member at the dance conventions ASH, NYCDA, PULSE and his own Complexions Academy he continues to push forward in new endeavors and give back to those students striving for excellence .

Projects and awards[edit]

Richardson has worked in television, film, and video in the United States and abroad. These experiences have allowed him to perform with such musical artists as Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Madonna.

He performed with Michael Jackson in his 30th-anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden.

Additional performances include being a featured guest artist in the 71st Academy Awards live television presentation and a principal role in Debbie Allen's dance/theatrical presentation, Soul Possessed, which had its world premiere at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1999.

Richardson is featured in Patrick Swayze's film, One Last Dance and the film version of the Oscar-winning Chicago.

On July 16, 2008, Richardson was featured as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance.

Acting Career[edit]

Richardson worked as an ensemble member in Chicago alongside Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

His most prominent film role, however, is yet to appear on screens. In the fall of 2017 he began work on the set of High Strung Free: Dance alongside actors Harry Jarvis, Juliet Doherty and Thomas Doherty. Richardson plays the role of Sammy an assistant choreographer working alongside Zander Reins.


  1. ^ Jennifer Dunning (December 8, 1991). "Desmond Richardson; For Him, the Dance Is as Important as the Dancer". New York Times. Retrieved Nov 4, 2013.

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