The best thing about being a young dancer in New York City is getting to take classes with the top dogs. As open classes are exactly that, open to all who are brave enough to enter, it’s possible to start your day doing plies and jetes next to the soloists of America’s greatest ballet companies. The pinnacle of this phenomenon for me, as a fresh-off-the-train 19-year-old, was on a regular Monday morning. I stepped up to the barre at Steps on Broadway, placed my water bottle on the floor next to my feet, and when I looked up Desmond Richardson was standing across from me. For the next 40 minutes I struggled to maintain concentration, stop myself from gawking and keep from appearing overtly star struck.
Fifteen years have passed since that morning, and Desmond Richardson continues to be one of the most inspiring figures in the international dance community.