National Pride: Brazilian ballet dancer shines on Canadian Stage at the Alberta Ballet.
by Flávia Berredo de Menezes
The achievement of dreams born of a desire to conquer the world, brought to Canada a Brazilian ballet dancer who is an example of courage and determination.
Gustavo Ribeiro is 20 years old and joined the ballet at age 12, at Expressão e Arte, a dance studio located in Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil. At the time, the poor boy who barely ate, sought a sponsorship in dance for a better life, and the studio instructors helped him through the ballet. Countless demotivating commenters advising Gustavo to “put his feet on the ground”, were the encouragement that pushed the young boy who grew up in extreme poverty and misery, to win a very competitive two year contract to dance in Alberta Ballet’s Nutcracker, The Alberta Ballet, is the second largest Canadian ballet company and it is known throughout the world for its classical and contemporary productions.
Ribeiro’s international career began at age 16, as Ribeiro when he was selected to compete in the finals of the “Youth American Grand Prix” in New York – the largest global network in the world of ballet students. In this contest between renowned dancers, the Brazilian received a contract to with the Orlando Ballet II.
In 2014, Gustavo entered The Washington Ballet Company, where he worked in many productions including The Nutcracker, Sleepy Hollow, The Swan Lake, Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty. “When I moved to America I knew I could have a future of achievements and accomplishments,” says the young man who has received numerous invitations to perform in several leading roles in Alberta, as well as joining numerous ballet companies and dance universities in the United States and Europe.
However, the heart of the Brazilian was won by Canada when, in the second week of January 2015, Gustavo competed with about 300 dancers from around the globe in an open audition in New York who guaranteed only two places in the Alberta Ballet. Gustavo got one of the roles and became the youngest dancer of the company’s history, an accomplishment on Canadian soil that would boost his confidence.
“Since I have had already past and overcome all possible challenges such as language, adaptation, culture and financial issues in the United States, I believe that my biggest challenge here in Canada is to prove that I am a prepared and mature professional, regardless of my age. Due to my financial condition in Brazil, I lost count of how many people who told me to stop dreaming and wake up to the reality in which I lived. They used to say that dance would never take me anywhere. Today, looking back, I see how far I’ve got, being only 20 years old”.