Image of Adrián Ramírez Juárez

Adrián Ramírez Juárez’s Story

Abolishing Stereotypes
“There is nothing delicate about a career in dance, we are athletes that go through a lot pain, sweat, injuries and tears — people without this knowledge can’t even begin to imagine what we go through.”

Adrián Ramírez Juárez
Mexico City, Mexico
Company Member Since 2014

When I was around 16, I learned how to dance salsa and that led me to ballet. I started training in ballet close to when I turned 20 years old.

I wanted to learn to dance salsa because in Mexico that’s how we dance at parties, and I didn’t want to sit by myself and not dance so that was my drive to learn salsa. My love for dance fueled my ballet training and wanting to become a professional dancer. I didn’t have high expectations about becoming a professional dancer, because it’s a well-known fact that if you want to be a ballet dancer you need to start when you are a kid, but I didn’t let that stop me!

One of my ballet teachers used to played videos of Manuel Legris, Nicolas Le Riche and Silvie Guillem so we could study and imitate them and understand what the teacher was trying to convey in terms of dance. I admired these dancers because of their artistry and mesmerizing technique.

I think the biggest stereotype for boys who dance is that all male dancers are gay or too feminine.

People think this because of the delicate, ethereal and effortless way dance can be and also because of the type of garments that are worn. Yes, there’s a lot of gay male dancers in this industry but there are also many straight men in this industry. It’s ignorance and homophobia that feeds these stereotypes. There is nothing delicate about a career in dance, we are athletes that go through a lot pain, sweat, injuries and tears — people without this knowledge can’t even begin to imagine what we go through. What the audience sees is beauty and what looks to be effortless movement.

I was bullied mostly by ballet teachers. I felt terrible because it was by teachers who are in a position of power and knowledge. Power that they use not to encourage and lift a dancer up or get the best out of them, but by breaking them down and diminishing them. I never understood how someone could do this.

As a dancer that came late in the game, there’s always this misconception that I am automatically lacking skill and talent than other dancers that have years and years of experience and had started when they were 3 years old. I became the target for certain teachers and was made fun of and I was used as an example for how not to do certain steps. One very well-known teacher told another dancer not to get close to me because he didn’t want them to copy my “horrible port de bras.” This teacher made fun of my age in the middle of an exercise just to make the point that I was the oldest in the studio. Unfortunately, the abuse went on.

I had a mentor growing up and his name was Manuel Reynoso. I don’t think I would be where I am today without his help. After deciding I wanted to become a professional dancer, I got rejected from the National Dance school in Mexico and then I met Manuel a couple of weeks later. He saw me taking a ballet class and told me, without knowing me, “You can dance, did you know that?” I will never forget those words. Later on, we chatted and I explained to him that I wanted to be a professional dancer but felt I was too old. He told me he would help me because he believed I had what it takes to become a ballet dancer.

We all need someone that truly believes in us and to help and guide us so we can reach our goals and full potential. This is a responsibility that professional dancers and teachers have. Sometimes all you need is someone that gives you that little push to keep going, or to put you on the right track.

I love dancing because I always find myself challenged with something to work on. There’s nothing like the moment when I’m about to go onstage! I can feel the adrenaline going through my body. When I’m dancing, I can forget about what’s going on in the world — it’s like meditation for me, everything gets silenced in my head.

The advice I would give to boys wanting to dance is to just do it! Don’t be afraid, fear will take you nowhere in life. There’s more representation in social media and TV now and people are more aware of what dance is about and what it takes to become a dancer. If someone gets bullied for wanting to dance, that person better be ready because you will have hundreds of dancers knocking on your door.

If you are and older dancer, meaning someone with more experience, be mindful how you talk to younger dancers. You can’t imagine the impact your words can have. You can be the difference between building a future dancer or destroying one. There’s a big difference between giving constructive criticism and just pushing people down. You will take away one’s potential and future — all because you want to be powerful.