How Jose Ramos Went From Cleaning Bathrooms to Choreographing for Hollywood Royalty
Jose Ramos' resumé reads like a VMA attendance list: Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown, Ciara, Diddy, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have all enlisted his incredible skills as a choreographer and dancer. With clientele like that, it's no wonder that Ramos goes by the nickname " Hollywood." But while his life sounds like a fairytale now, Ramos had to work hard to end up in the "happily ever after" stage of his story.
Growing up, Ramos knew he wanted to dance professionally, but wasn't sure how to make his dance dreams a reality. Doors opened for him when he received a scholarship to study at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. When the scholarship ended, Ramos knew he needed to continue his training but couldn't afford classes. So he signed up for BDC's work/study program, which allowed dancers to manage and clean the facilities in return for $5 classes.
From there, he continued auditioning for big and small roles. Success came with persistence, and small gigs with up-and-coming artists slowly lead to bigger gigs with bigger artists. Now he's living out his dreams, choreographing and dancing for events around the globe, and hoping his story inspires young dancer to be persistent in pursuing their goals.
How did you stay motivated during those times when dancing professionally seemed impossible?
You have to know what your goals are, and keep them in sight at all times. When things felt really hopeless, I would talk to my mom for hours. You need people you can count on and confide in.
Who's your dance role model?
I like Wade Robson. I wanted to be him as a kid and have my own show on MTV. He's so intricate and versatile.
What are your proudest accomplishments as a dancer/choreographer?
I would say choreographing for Jennifer Lopez and Diddy because I grew up looking up to those artists.
Photo by Baxter Stapleton, courtesy Ramos
What's something you wish you'd known at the beginning of your dance career?
Everyone wants success so fast, but you have to have a solid foundation before you can really achieve greatness. There aren't shortcuts.
I used to clean bathrooms at BDC because I couldn't afford the $18 for class. Now I sell out classes in those same rooms. Success came in the end. It just took time and a lot of work!
Who has been the biggest supporter of your dance career?
My mom. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams. A couple of years ago my mom was ill, and was in and out of the hospital. One time, she signed herself out of the hospital sooner than she should have so that she could go home and watch me perform live on TV. It meant so much that she was able to see me live my dream. She has become my motivation, because I want her legacy to live on through my dancing.
What qualities do you need to make it in the dance industry?
Ambition and determination. First you have goals on a piece of paper; then they're in your mind; then you make them happen. You have to trust your talent, but also know that despite your ambition, you're going to have trials. That's where the determination comes in.
What advice would you give to young dancers?
Don't get caught up with what you see on Instagram or social media. We all start to think those posts are reality, when in truth it takes hours of practice to perfect those routines.
Celebrate your individuality, too! Yes, be inspired by other people, but don't get so obsessed with their gigs or performances or choreography. Ask yourself: What legacy are you leaving?
What's your life motto?
Follow your dreams and keep being positive. The sky is not the limit—we are!
Some might say Charlize Glass' fame kicked off with a single three-letter word. In 2014, Beyoncé shared a video of the then–12-year-old dancer performing to "Yoncé" on Instagram, along with a simple caption: "WOW!"
But by that point, the hip-hop mini had already performed at the MTV Video Music Awards and on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and won first runner-up with her crew, 8 Flavahz, on "America's Best Dance Crew." And her Queen Bey Insta shout-out wasn't even the pinnacle of her tween career: She earned a spot on The PULSE On Tour as an Elite Protégé for the 2014–2015 season, and performed with Missy Elliott at the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show in 2015.
These days, the 16-year-old spends her time touring the country as Brian Friedman's assistant at Radix Dance Convention and blowing up YouTube and Instagram with her class-video cameos. And while the Char Char we fell in love with was a hip-hop cutie pie, the more mature artist we see today is sure to rock the dance world for years to come.
For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.
From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.
If you follow ballet darling Juliet Doherty on Instagram—which you probably do—you already know that the two-time Youth America Grand Prix gold medalist is a self-proclaimed "plant-powered ballerina." Doherty has followed a vegan diet for four years now, and though she never forces her lifestyle on her followers or IRL friends, she does love sharing her daily eats and the plant-based meals and snacks that help her perform at her best. Curious as to what that entails? Here's a day in the life of Juliet's meat-and-dairy-free diet.
In the summer of 2006, Heidi Groskreutz and Travis Wall performed a showstopping Mia Michaels routine on “So You Think You Can Dance" Season 2, a piece now remembered simply as “The Bench Dance." It was arguably the first time this particular dance style had been shown on live TV—a style both graceful and quirky, driven by storytelling and deeply felt emotion.
It was, in other words, the mainstream world's introduction to contemporary. And it earned “SYTYCD" one of its first Outstanding Choreography Emmy Awards.
Contemporary dance has come a long way (baby). While the style has been around for decades, as of late it seems to be everywhere. Today you can see contemporary choreography on concert stages (Shaping Sound's tour has been a massive hit), on TV (it's the favored style on “SYT" and pops up regularly on “Dancing with the Stars"), in films (remember Kathryn McCormick's character in Step Up Revolution?), in music videos (including Sia's viral films starring Maddie Ziegler) and even on Broadway (Michaels took her talents to the Great White Way for Finding Neverland).
The possibilities for contemporary dance seem to be endless. But how should the style keep evolving, and what has it outgrown? To find out, we talked to some of the contemporary world's most influential names.
As a tap dancer, you're a student of history—whether you know it or not. Tap technique today is intimately connected to the great hoofers of the past. "Tap is incredibly personal, because all of these individuals have added to the public domain, the pool of steps you draw from," says Brian Seibert, dance critic for The New York Times and author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing. "You're constantly giving shout-outs to dancers who came before you."
It's also important to recognize tap's pioneers because they repeatedly broke down barriers, making tap accessible to everyone. "You don't have to overcome something to be here," says Tony Waag, artistic executive director of the American Tap Dance Foundation. "You're not the first black person or woman, you don't have to carry a certain card or have a particular lineage to succeed at tap. Gregory Hines used to say, 'If you have the shoes, you're in.' "
Come meet the artists who've shaped tap history. Because if you're a tap dancer, they're your family, too.
What's better than a good dance joke? They're corny, they're punny, and they're exactly what you need to get you through long Nutcracker days. These 10 jokes are guaranteed to put a smile on your face—no matter how much your feet are hurting.
"So you Think You Can Dance" Season 14 finalists Lex Ishimoto and Taylor Sieve shocked fans at home (at least the ones who hadn't thoroughly scoured their respective Instagrams) during Episode 14, when choreographer Mia Michaels asked if either of them had ever experienced "the kind of love that takes your breath away." They confessed that, yup, they had—with each other. The two met at The Dance Awards in the summer of 2016, where they were each named Senior Best Dancer, and went on to tour with the convention as assistants. Before long—and long before their "SYTYCD" journey—they became a couple.
Take a look at Dance Spirit's exclusive interview where they dish on everything from their favorite dates to the dance moves that give them all the feels.
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
Yes, we all know dancers are strong. But sometimes it takes a truly epic workout video to remind us JUST HOW INSANELY STRONG they actually are.
Behold, National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina's oh-so-casual pre-class exercise: