Yes, they think he can dance

Desmond Richardson, who has choreographed the popular TV show, to be feted in Laguna this month.

June 13, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Desmond Richardson, choreographer, dancer, and co-founder and artistic director of New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company, will be honored at the Laguna Dance Festival on June 20.
Desmond Richardson, choreographer, dancer, and co-founder… (Handout, Coastline…)

Desmond Richardson plans to trek nearly 3,000 miles next week to be in Laguna Beach. Again.

The New York resident will board a flight to Orange County on Thursday — something he has done several times over the years. It has made him a familiar face at the Laguna Dance Festival.

This year, Richardson plans to take in the "fantastic weather" as the guest of honor at the festival's annual fundraiser, "Visual Immersion," on June 20.

The playbill for the upcoming event describes the Tony Award-nominee as a choreographer, dancer, and co-founder and artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet Co. He laughed and added singer-songwriter, actor and visual artist to the mix.

Dance occupies a special place in his life, though, he admitted.

"It's played a huge role — it's allowed me to travel the world, learn different languages and been such a wonderful education," said Richardson, a sometime "So You Think You Can Dance" choreographer who has performed with Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin and Madonna, among others.


Currently in its eighth season, the highly anticipated yearly event, known for its formidable roster of dancers, attracts enthusiastic fans from the entire region. When founder and Director Jodie Gates created the festival in 2005, though, it was to fill a void in the community.

"I felt dance needed to be more present and perhaps more accessible, and now I would like to think that we have accomplished this change," Gates wrote in an email.

Tickets are already on sale for this year's program, which runs from Sept. 4 through 8.

Gates met Richardson as a dancer, choreographer and director at Complexions Contemporary Ballet, which she deemed "a terrific experience."

"Desmond has believed in the dance festival since our inception and has been a constant Laguna Dance Festival advocate and performer throughout the years," she wrote. "The audience here has gotten to know his company and prolific performing career, and now it is time that we recognize him publicly and thank him for his support."

When the man in question, who counts ballet luminaries Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn as early influences, heard about his recognition, he recalled being "floored and extremely honored by the gesture."

Gates, the director and vice dean of the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC, said she does her homework to earmark "innovative and entertaining" artists.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles