Desmond Richardson defies human limitations with his dynamic power and captivates audiences with his artistic expression. Richardson's extraordinary natural talent was first recognized when, as a student at the Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, he received a merit scholarship from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 1987, he began his professional career with the Ailey Company, where he was a principal for seven years. Richardson went on to perform with companies like American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and Ballet Frankfurt in Germany. And he's more than a ballet phenomenon: He showed his triple-threat skills in the movie musicals Chicago and Across the Universe, and earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor for his work in the Broadway hit Fosse. As if that weren't enough, in 1994 he co-founded Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Today, he continues to perform with Complexions and serves as the company's co-artistic director. —Ashley Rivers

Dear Desmond,

Hey you! Yes you, the young perfectionist! You need to stop sweating the small stuff. Stay positive, because negativity is distracting; ultimately, it will knock you off course. Quit worrying that you're not at the same level as the others and start living in the moment.

Study the basics well, because you will need them if you want to truly speak through movement. Continue to dream of one day gracing the great stages of the world. Follow your passion—you'll find that it will fuel you.

You don't know it yet, but your hard work, your commitment to excellence and your

respect for your art will allow you to soar. So let go and open up to the infinite possibilities the universe has in store for you!

Take Care,

Your Big Self

Top photo by JP Sevillano; bottom photo of Richardson (center front) with teacher Maria Youskevitch (center back) and fellow Ailey School students in a 1980s brochure courtesy The Ailey School Archives

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