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.This month, Richardson will arrive in Israel with his company Complexions for performances at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. This engagement will seal the 2015-2016 season at TAPAC.Throughout his career, Richardson has exhibited excellence in a variety of styles and media. He has been seen in ballets, musicals, films and dancing with entertainers such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. Richardson is an incredibly intelligent performer, bringing to each role a deft and in-depth interpretation that raises the level of the creation.As the co-founder of ethnically diverse, contemporary ballet company Complexions, Richardson is engaged in fostering a new generation of phenomenal performers. Like himself, the dancers of Complexions are capable of executing the highest level of technical dance, on pointe and off, melding virtuosity with versatility.“Dwight Rhoden and I look for dancers who have a sound technical base, who understand who they are and what they contribute to the brand of Complexions,” explains Richardson.Complexions was founded in 1994 in New York as an outlet for extraordinary dancers of varied ethnicities and race. Over the past 22 years, Complexions has uncompromisingly raised the bar of contemporary ballet troupes by offering performances that both impress and connect with the audience. In addition to international touring, Complexions runs a thriving school where young dancers can learn from world-renowned teachers. “Within the next five to 10 years, we look forward to growing, building our school and having the company visibility stronger,” explains Richardson.For this visit to Israel, Complexions will present an evening of the company’s repertoire, choreographed by co-founder Dwight Rhoden, as well as a guest performance by local dance celebrity Ido Tadmor. Tadmor will reveal his newest work, H-A-I For Two, a solo danced to music by Max Richter.With his long limbs and dazzling dynamics, Tadmor easily fits into the atmosphere created by Complexions.“Ido Tadmor and I are friends and have been since we met years ago dancing at the Presidential Gala in Jerusalem,” Richardson recounts. “Ido is a formidable artist and an equally generous compassionate person. It will be a pleasure to share the stage with him again.”The rest of the evening will feature six short pieces b Rhoden: Ballad Unto…; Gone; Cryin’ To Cry Out; Choke; Testament; and Innervisions. These works show different aspects of the Complexions cast, from classical capabilities to groove. As with all Complexions programs, the audience’s enjoyment is first and foremost.“Our shows are exciting, engaging and passionate,” says Richardson. “In my opinion, the difference between art and entertainment is becoming blurred. Many artists are unseeing that there is an entertainment factor to our art, yet we can still be investigative, provocative and accessible.”On and off stage, Richardson sees himself as a mentor to his younger peers.“My favorite part of my job is watching an individual’s growth. Viewing their progress and confidence is magical to me, and I’m glad to be in the unique position to give back,” he says. Complexions will perform on July 20, 21 and 23 at the Opera House in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit www.israel-opera.co.il.