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.