BOYS WHO DARE TO DREAM
Meet Erick Bernardo Rojas
Pre-professional student at Miami City Ballet School
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Last summer, the global dance community came out in full force to shine a light on the strength and power of males in dance after a gaffe made by a Good Morning America host about boys in ballet.
When Lourdes Lopez took the helm of Miami City Ballet in 2012, the company was short seven male dancers required to fill the roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®. Since then, she’s not only grown the overall company to 53 company members – its biggest size yet – but she’s also grown the number of male dancers on the roster to 22 – 16 of which are corps de ballet dancers.
So we salute and celebrate boys who dare to dream – to be dancers who take flight and inspire us.
Erick Bernardo Rojas is one of these boys, currently receiving a scholarship to attend MCB School’s pre-professional program. Introduced to dance by his mother who taught local children, he took his first dance steps at age two along with his two sisters; And while his sisters enjoy ballet casually, it was Erick whose passion was ignited by those very first steps.
At 13 Erick took a major leap. He packed up, leaving his loving family behind for a shot at achieving his number one dream – to one day dance with Miami City Ballet. “Leaving my home was scary. My English wasn’t very good, but everybody helped me and made me feel like I have a family here. I want to make myself proud first, and my family. My family supports me a lot. I couldn’t do this without them,” Erick explains.
Arantxa Ochoa, School Artistic Director, shares, “There is a need for social support for male dancers. One of the biggest challenges for any boy in ballet is the stereotyping and at times the bullying that questions their masculinity. Young male dancers must get past the teasing and walk through the ballet school door. Without support and understanding, even those with incredible talent may quit.”
Aranxta continues, “When Erick came to us, he showed potential, but he didn’t yet possess the technique. What he has accomplished in three years…it’s incredible. He was injured last year. He had to learn how to listen to his body and be patient. That was not an easy task, but he listened and came back stronger.”
When Erick’s asked to name his biggest role model, he says, “Ms. Arantxa. When I hear her talk about her career, everything she’s accomplished, I say yeah, I want to be just like her.”