Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Shattuck's Portrait of "Choreographic Partners" Rhoden and Richardson

Rhoden and Richardson
Kathryn Shattuck has written a sharp article, "After the Breakup, Still Choreographic Partners,"* in the Arts Section of today's New York Times, on the transformed intimate and artistic relationship between choreographer-dancers Dwight Rhoden (42) and Desmond Richardson (35) (pictured at right, photo by Heidi Schumann for the New York Times).

With a minimum of spectacle and stereotype, Shattuck addresses the topic of two amazing, Black, gay/sgl male artists who were a couple** for 17 years but split up last summer, though they are still close and have continued their working relationship in the group they cofounded in 1994, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, which opens a run of eight shows at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea beginning tonight.

It's a refreshing read, particularly for its critical, candid treatment of these men's complex lives and for its exploration and appreciation, even in such a brief space, of how private experiences often inflect upon but also differ from public expression and performance. In this case, the spiritual, psychological and emotional, social, political, and aesthetic exchanges that occurred in their relationship--the partnership they developed--have translated, in part, into the powerful onstage work that both men created together and individually, though Shattuck does challenge the simplistic equation than some journalists, biographers and fans make between the artist's life (or lives) and her or his work.

I've seen Richardson dance before--though not Rhoden--and afterwards was at a loss to convey my awe. If I can, I'm going to catch one of their sets.
*The NY Times requires registration.
**I cannot remember the last time I read about a Black or POC LGBT/sgl couple--whether in an intimate relationship, an artistic partnership, or both--let alone a relationship of this length, in a mainstream news publication, in the mainstream LGBT print media, or in the non-LGBT Black and non-white print media. It almost goes without saying that we are just as rarely portrayed in the televisual media.


  1. thanks for the heads-up! my sentiments about the representation of black sgl relationships mirror yours, and I appreciate you and Shattuck making this story available.

  2. Thanks for this, John. I had totally missed this article.

  3. Thanks for tipping us to this article, John. I'm gonna try to catch the show, maybe Friday night.

    The Times did do a story, maybe 15 years ago about sero-discordant couples and featured two black gay men then dating, George Bellinger and James Miles. And I have also read features on another Black gay dancer-choreographer, Ronald K. Brown. But, yes, such depictions of our lives are few and far between.

  4. Larry, Mendi, and Bernie, thanks for dropping in. Had I not seen the image of Rhoden and Richarson, I might have passed the article over myself. Bernie, I sort of remember the story on George and James Miles, and you're right, the Times and other publications have covered Ron and other Black sgl men and women, like Glenn Ligon, before. (Larry was featured in an article not long ago too, and looked great!) But as you say, such depictions, especially at this level of nuance, are rare.

  5. yep, nice entry.. got info good!

    keep writing them..

    ei, tag me sometime - anthony.i.ph