Student Blog: Dancing with Desmond

September 29, 2015

By Celine Kiner

Let me begin by saying that the commanding presence of Desmond Richardson is enough to turn a room silent in a single second. Enough to turn an entire theater silent, actually, as Complexions audiences very well know. Once he enters the studio in the morning, you can feel the entire room shift focus: all 33 USC Kaufman BFA students become silent and remove their baggy warm-up attire. Desmond likes to see clean lines.

His class begins with a plank and push-up series that not only engages our core but also our musicality, among other things. The way Desmond’s muscles are sculpted, it is clear that he dances with every ounce of his being. His ballet barre requires this of dancers; we must be mentally alert at all times, working with precision and stretching everything just a little beyond its capacity. He is determined that we realize our potential, and this shows in his brightly glowing aura–and in his tough love.

“I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist,” he’s always saying. And it’s true. Desmond is not hesitant to tell us exactly what and how we are doing wrong. It is understood, however, that he works the way a true professional would. His repertory class is a simulation of a company rehearsal, and he expects nothing less than our best. Through working in this way, I have seen our small class of dancers grow leaps and bounds in just two weeks. Always pushing harder, always dancing bigger, always listening better; we are stronger for it.

As a class, we are all in complete awe of Desmond. To interact with an artist of such undeniable drive, talent, and knowledge is a privilege in itself, and to learn from him is an opportunity for which we are very grateful. As an acting force in many different spectrums of art, this formidable presence has more to offer us than we could ever ask for. As we scramble to absorb as much of his dancing, teaching, and wisdom as possible, I try to keep his words in mind: “Be more, because you can.”