Advice for Male Dancers from Desmond Richardson.
Artistic Director/Co.Founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
This month Deborah Searle of DanceInforma has interviewed Desmond Richardson, one of the world's most acclaimed male dancers, gives his tips for the boys in town!
Q. What advice would you give to young men who desire to make dance their career?
A. I would advise those young men who dream of being in the world of dance to go for it with all out abandon. If it is your passion, then nothing will stand in your way. It will help to study the pure form of ballet so that in whatever style you choose, you will have a clean refined line. It will help you understand your body, precision, detail and your musicality – a must for all dancers.
Q. Many males don't have particularly beautiful feet for dancing. How can male dancers improve the look of their feet?
A. It is true that many of us guys don't start out with the best feet for dance, but with hard work that can all change. When working to strengthen your feet, you must stretch them daily and work with an elastic theraband to strengthen the delicate tendons surrounding the feet. Multiple tendus brushing through the metatarsals also increases the needed flexion imperative to having an elegant foot. Lastly, presentation of the feet from your inner thigh, allowing the heels to rotate forward, always helps.
Q. What advice would you give to male dancers who want to improve their partnering skills and lifts?
A. Male dancers that want to improve their partnering skills first must get over the fear that they have someone's body weight in their possession. Starting out, I too was afraid and quite frankly a tad weak physically and mentally to the challenge of partnering. I assumed that I had to use brute strength to achieve the desired lifts, when in fact after studying ballet partnering and contact improvisation my whole world in dance was changed for the better. Everyone will tell you it takes two to tango. It's a 50/50 relationship that requires both parties to remain open to the possibilities and the inevitable.
Q. Should male dancers lift weights to improve their strength and muscle tone?
A. Male dancers should definitely do what they feel they need to do to have the muscle tone they want to achieve. It was told to me by one of the greats, Mr. Alvin Ailey, that dance is a visual visceral art form, it's the creation of moving sculpture. Many patrons of dance choose what they want to view in any particular performance, so why not present your instrument in all its glory?
Q. When auditioning dancers for your company, what do you look for in a male dancer?
A. What Dwight Rhoden and I look for in male dancers auditioning for our company is strong, clean, clear technique, an unparalleled individuality, something to say when they approach the stage and ultimate passion for the art form. It's a must when they walk in the door. I have to say today male dancers are making it difficult for us to choose as there are many wonderfully gifted ones who turn up to audition.
Q. Which famous male dancers, past or present, inspire you?
A. The male dancers that have inspired me are so many to mention from Hip Hop to Broadway and film. But I will state that had it not been for me catching a documentary of Rudolf Nureyev on the public broadcasting channel when I was 11 years old, coming in from playing football with my brothers, I would not be the dancer I am today.
So go for it and see what else you can bring to the wonderful world of dance!