What I have learned

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Desmond Richardson

I love street dance, but for years I studied classical ballet. For years I trained 20-25 hours per week…. Technique, repertoire, physiology, musicality, staging, stretching, partnering, rehearsal… but mostly just hard core technique.

One of my first teachers was Erling Sunde. I have no idea how old he was, but he was a lot older than me. He could no longer dance. I deeply respected him and all the great dancers before him including those Erling trained, like Nureyev, Fonteyn, and Bruhn… I respected him not for what he could do today, but what he did for many, many years; for the deep knowledge he had. I had a lot of great teachers, Wayne Davis, Kathryn Irey, many others… I didn’t always like them. Some of them were, in my mind, b@st@rds. But I respected them. I listened to them. I learned from them.

As a young dancer I had to prove myself in order to get ANY performance time. I once felt HONORED to be allowed to STAND on stage as a ‘performer’ with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Kirov.

Today, young dancers are challenging their hip hop teachers.

I wonder what the world of ballet would be like now if the 50, 60, 70, or 80 year old ballet masters and madams were asked to ‘prove’ themselves to kids, teens, and relatively young adults. Equally, I wonder what the ballet world would be like if after 6 months someone with some choreographic ‘ideas’ were allowed to teach their ‘version’ of ballet.

I have learned a lot over these last few years of supporting the Hip Hop Dance (street dance) community. Unfortunately I am not sure of the meaning of what I’ve learned….


PS this is NOT a photo of me. It’s Desmond Richardson. A great dancer. Think he took a class a week for 6 months?