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Meet Ricky Palomino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ricky Palomino.

Ricky, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am a Dancer, Choreographer, TV Producer, Music Video Director, Editor, Designer, Actor, and Artist. Lol. Wow, that’s a lot! I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, Oh great, here’s another artist in Los Angeles just doing the most, who thinks they can do it all! Well, I am here to tell you, Yes. But no. Growing up, my nana was a seamstress, my uncle was a multi-instrumentalist, my aunt was a writer, my other uncle was a contractor, and mom was just great at everything. I was put in gymnastics and never forced to do anything I didn’t want to. Playing outside til dawn with my cousins was their way of life. And we were REALLY poor! Like we paid with food stamps poor. So once I got into 4th grade, music got really serious for me and my focus went through the roof. I knew I needed to be something different and something that could big enough to support our whole family. Seeing my mom work so hard and needing help with babysitters and money as a single mother. I saw life test her. I knew how to play four instruments by the 4th grade, was in gymnastics, worked harder, picked up more instruments, got to high school, finally got take dance lessons, was in symphonic band, jazz band, and marching band, started touring with the bands and dance, got on scholarship at Baet Arizona, became a drum major my senior year with 12 instruments under my belt, and got a full scholarship for diving at Arizona State University. The future was mine and I would be the first in our family to go to college. But I didn’t go. My father shunned me, didn’t talk to me for five years, mom supported but was still hard for her, but I needed to try something out. I had a best friend all through high school and now we were going off to college, we got caught up in some bad drugs. I was losing myself and had to disconnect from him. He started selling his body, hanging with gangs and was bringing them into our world. So I left. I packed two bags and moved to New York City to pursue a dance career. I worked serving ice cream, cleaning dance studios, and temp work. I was actually on the Red Cross committee that handled giving families stipends for losing their families in the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks. Auditions would come and go and never got my chance til I met Jen (Lucy) Ballard. She had started a Ballet Company, Cedar Lake Ballet, in NYC that was funded fully by Nancy Walton Laurie, one of the heiresses to WalMart. I auditioned for and couldn’t do all the things needed so she made her assistant teach me real quick, a brise vole. So I learned it and I was HIRED! My bank account went from 10k a year to nearly 70k in a matter of months! She hired me as an apprentice and within three months, I was a full member. A couple of years in, I was able to send money home to my family, dad started talking to me again, and I even flew my family and little brother to NYC to visit. I was successful. Then a group within the team she hired came together and told Nancy all these absurd things and got her fired. Nancy was a mean ugly person and The NY Times even wanted to interview me. But who wants to spill toxic ruin. Well now I am, I guess. Ha! Times change. Jk. Anyway, during this time I wrote, produced, and released my first album under the name MARCELINO called Amateurly Honest. This is when I started touring the country as Choreographer for dance conventions. 33 cities a year, we would tour and dance and educate upcoming dancers whom many are big stars now.

Anyway, later I auditioned and booked So You Think You Can Dance as a top 20 finalist. They brought me to LA and I fell in love. I wrote another album under Ricky Marcelino Palomino called Hyperactive Involvement. I was voted off and I had to wait til the finale was over to work again. Contract stuff, like they literally own you. But in that time, I started to see how amazing production crews are, and filming became a forefront to me so, I made friends with the production crews and people knew my name and so, I kept auditioning in LA, never booked anything really, kept touring, moved to Minneapolis for three years to start a dance company, it was amazing but I needed more so I came back to LA and then another roller coaster. I met the man of dreams, Matt Cady, he started Fanny Pay from the MTV show, Americas Best Dance Crew. They were a fan favorite and we both understood the emotional, mental, spiritual fallout of being on a reality tv show so together we healed. Talk about a gem. We healed, we grew life was a dream and we disappeared from the world for a couple of years. He’s a highly successful choreographer for Madonna, Ariana Grande, Ricky Martin, etc. and me comparing myself to him I started to question my own talent. So I kept myself as a Dance Teacher. Which is fine, but I had so much more to give. Then as he was directing a new show, I thought, I’m gonna make those costumes, and I did. After the success of that project, I started designing my own patterns and cuts. Sourced fabric from DTLA and eventually hired assistants to help me with two collections. My designer name, MARCELINO. My middle name, but most importantly, my Tata’s name whom I never got to meet, he passed three months before I arrived. But, I got into two stores on Melrose and the line was really successful. My mom was so proud and she came to stay with us in LA for Christmas that year. It was heaven.

Later, I started choreographing for Television on a couple of different shows, produced my own show for the community, then got to be a writer and story producer on another show for LifeTime, and it was all due to my connections from SYTYCD. People respected me and understood my eye for producing. Life was insanely amazing!!! Like hallelujah!!! Then I lost my mom. She went to the hospital for a fever, things kept going wrong, then she was better, then she somehow choked on food, went into coma, organs started failing, came back to us, was really awake and aware but had to be intubated so she couldn’t talk. She was answering my questions by nodding her head and holding my hand and crying. She got weak at one point so I sang to her and held her. When she finally woke up, I told her, If this is the end of this road, then let it be. I promise you, I will be here for my little brother, don’t worry. We will be ok because you prepared us for life. You have given us strength. She wanted to fight. And sometimes your loved ones will hold on to dear life just for the sake of the family, their children mostly. They are worried that we will be lost or too sad because we all depend on each other so much. And we should. Right after I said that she looked into the sky in that cold hospital room, and her eyes grew big with wonder and disbelief, she started to look around confused but then comforted. She smiled and looked at me and cried. We still couldn’t talk to each other, but I knew her dad was there to get her with our extended family thats past and our ancestors. And at that moment, I knew life never ends. That was almost five years ago and I am crying just writing this. I couldn’t get off the couch or out of bed for a good three years. She was my reason for working hard so that I could one day buy us a beautiful big house so all our family loves in it together. It’s still hard now to get up sometimes. Thank the heavens for Matt because he showed me how to walk again.

I was straight until 26 years old and now came out to my mom. She and her best friend flew to LA to meet Matt and I will tell you. We got to dinner early, my closest cousin came too. When Matt walked up in his bright sweater, off colored shorts, high socks, and bright sneakers. She gave the most awful look, didn’t shake his hand. She sat for a minute, he introduced himself and she left and took a GREYHOUND BUS HOME!! OMG LOL!! It’s funny now. Anyway, so Matt and I just filming our own music videos, created our own shows, content, traveled and taught and just lived. And slowly but surely, I started to wake back up again. We started to do more music videos for artists like Blake McGrath, Simple Creatures, Nicci, Vincint, Barre Crake, Hamid J, Rachele Royale and we Direct and Edit all of them. It’s been truly amazing and I feel my mom with me constantly sending me messages and insight from the aether. Later I landed a role in a film, The Accompanist that really tested my emotional capacity but also taught me, I was prepared for this role my whole life. And to finally be a main role and carrying a story. That was a dream, I could do that all day. The film was released last year, was a part of Cannes Film Festival, and has won so many awards on the film festival circuit. Now I’m getting ready to release another album and my own videos, Marcelino Fashion Line is on Poshmark, I just released a FREE online Ballet Course for dancers of all levels, writing my own tv show, and just appreciating life and all these hard times we must go through in order to truly become, more.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Honestly, my first memory was trauma. My whole entire life has been an obstacle, a test, a challenge made for the person in it to fail. I think the biggest obstacles to overcome are the emotional ones. Those deep cut wounds that enter your cells and that are closest to your subconscious spirit. And the deepest wounds come from family and friends. The ones whose opinion matters most. My father didn’t enter my life til I was about seven, so I have an ache in my soul that I am not good enough to love or not enough to even visit. Then heading into an industry that is literally the most critical of all fields out there, it was and still is hard.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Well, I am a Dancer, Choreographer, TV Producer, Music Video Director, Editor, Designer, Actor, and Artist, and Ballet Technique Educator, but I think I am mostly known for my dancing and teaching. I can’t tell you how many dancers I have worked within my time teaching but it is close 800,000. I am mostly proud of my work as a writer, tv producer, and music video director because of all the things I am able to translate to each artist’s story. There is true synergy in helping a fellow artists bring their own complexities to life while not doing too much or forcing anything. But my teaching of ballet technique and educating dancers on how to connection to their bodies and the universe is quite fascinating, The laws of the body within nature and space are very hard to comprehend, let alone placing emotion on top of it, to music, while communicating a story with no words is the hardest thing. I guess my answer is, after all I have been through, I am very proud of all the work I do because it takes a lot of pushing through to get there. It is its own struggle, but we get there eventually.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Resilience. Compassion, Understanding. Relearning. And not taking things personal. These things are important because we are ALL artists creating our own futures, beliefs, and struggles. And in a global system that is meant to suppress and not educate fully, our feelings and frustrations towards one another can get scary. Now when artists are working with artist/creator/dreamers, then it is the compassion and understanding and relearning that come into play. Bringing those dreams into the world is a big undertaking. What are we saying? How is it being translated? How are people gonna receive it? I used to have a lot of novice ideas and most all of them would get turned down by networks or artists and I would take it personal. That literally ended a couple of really special relationships for me because my ego was getting in the way of conveying the story. So, it is these principles that stick with for me. Cause I am overly sensitive, feel like I’m not heard, and don’t feel people see me. But we all have a little of this so now, I just communicate feelings more often.

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Image Credits:

Rob Daly Romy Young

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