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

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.

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Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa

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