Slice of life: I’m a  ‘neguinho’  who is really good

'But when I started attending the ballet school at Theatro Municipal, Brazil’s oldest and most famous ballet school, people started to change; they started to respect me.' (Renata Larroyd/M&G)

'But when I started attending the ballet school at Theatro Municipal, Brazil’s oldest and most famous ballet school, people started to change; they started to respect me.' (Renata Larroyd/M&G)

I was six years old when I first started dancing. But some people in my extended family said that, if I do ballet, I am going to turn gay or end up poor because it is such a hard career.

They didn’t want to support it but my mom said: “If it’s God’s plan for your life, one day you’re going to do it.”

When I was 10, I ended up going to a really good school and the teacher there said I should do ballet. But I had told myself, like everybody else, that ballet was for girls.

They convinced me [to dance] and I agreed, but didn’t want anyone to know.
But after a week, the whole school knew.

It was hard for people to accept,which was hard for me. Older guys in my street and at school would bully me a lot. They’d call me over, like: “Come here neguinho [little nigger]. Is it true you do ballet?” I’d say: “Yes”, but very shyly.

There is a joke in Brazil where people would say: “This Coke is turning into Fanta”,because, you know, you’re changing from one thing to another.

It would make me very upsetbut in my mind I said: “When I become a star, these guys are going to see.”

I don’t blame them, really, because doing ballet — especially for men — is not really part of our culture.

Brazil is all about football.

But when I started attending the ballet school at Theatro Municipal, Brazil’s oldest and most famous ballet school, people started to change; they started to respect me.

Even those older boys who used to bully me would come up to me, pat me on the shoulder and be like: “This neguinho is good. He is really, really good.”

For me, that was amazing. — Ruan Galdino, soloist with Joburg Ballet, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian.


*See Galdino in The Nutcracker at Joburg Theatre from October 5 to 14.


Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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