In Hollywood, there are triple-threats and then there is Ricky Palomino. As a dancer, Ricky first appeared on season three of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance and moved on from there. He is currently working on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition and can soon be seen in The Accompanist. In his free time, he’s also working on his own clothing line, Marcelino, and making music. Read on to learn more about Ricky’s choreography process, his time on So You Think You Can Dance and of course, why he’s a huge nerd!
So you started dancing pretty late. What got you interested in dance originally?
Originally, I was inspired by my cousins because they grew up dancing, performing and competing. I would always go and watch them and would be so entertained and dazzled by the costumes, excitement, and fun they were having on stage. That was my whole life so I became obsessed around 5 years old. I actually started in high school at 14 years old.
You were originally a ballet dancer. What’s your favorite style to perform now?
Oh dear, thats hard. I mean I love performing anything nowadays. The older I get, the more invested and intrigued I get about what I’m performing. When rehearsing, we learn so much about ourselves, and I think that in all industries, if we are asking the right questions and giving intention to each movement, then we really begin to weave conversation into the very ether of space. And that should make us have to shed layers and discover ourselves a little bit more and then grow closer into the person we are destined to be. So anything with depth and matter at hand is what I really love performing.
Talk a little bit about your season of SYTYCD. Do you still keep in touch with any of the other contestants from your season?
Well, my season was all quite young I feel. For me at the time, I was in a weird place because I was about to compete against “kids” I had just taught on convention or in a studio. I had just come off a 4 year contract with Cedar Lake Ballet in NYC, so I felt like it was unfair. I became a super big brother type and took the role of, “it’s their time now so let’s just take a back seat and watch the unfolding”. So, I really didn’t give it my all and I hid that under ego so with those ingredients mixed together, it just created a toxic and uncomfortable energy to be around.
Aside from that, I actually have kept in touch with a lot of dancers from my season, all whom I just adore and respect so much. Dominic “D-Trix” is now a judge on the show – so exciting! I see Sara Von Gillern here and there at events. Jesus Solorio is now in Santa Barbara heading a dance department at a college there. I work with Jamie Goodwin quite often and just love her so much. Lauren Gottlieb and I try to catch lunch but keep missing each other, same deal with Shauna Noland [laughs]. They are all so special to me.
Do you still watch SYTYCD? Did you think the show would last 16 years?
I actually do not watch the show. I honestly haven’t really seen the episodes I have assisted with because times are just so busy and there’s so much to keep up with. There was always a thought in my mind that they would last this long because they bring so much joy to the American and international communities. I am so happy for them and hope it lasts a lifetime.
You also work a lot with Abby Lee Miller and you currently serve as a choreographer and producer on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. How did you get involved with her?
I have known Abby forever, since about 2005. She has been in the dance business for years and has always taken her kids to numerous dance events, conventions, classes, and competitions probably her whole life. I worked at one where she filmed the first episode of Dance Moms, so I think that was like 16 years after I met her. All this success is insane and totally awesome. I am so glad she finally got her break and fame because she’s been a passionate and hard working woman since well before I met her.
Tell me about your choreography process. What inspires you on the dance floor?
Well it happens very fast, so when things come quick, there’s an urgency to rewind everything and then to repeat the same pathways you took to get to a destination. That was you really fully and at a high energy fuse it into your DNA so that it becomes a part of you. It’s also erratic and confusing. When a lot comes in, a lot also gets lost in the stream under the waterfall. Sometimes, I really want to fight for a spontaneous movement to become part of me and allow me to replicate its freeness. So when choreographing with dancers, I choreograph to their ability and it comes out quite fast. I help them move through what they are trying to express as humans. When choreographing for myself. I have to throw my body around and abandon not only the technique, but also all knowledge of the here and now and to be completely open and reactive to environment as possible. Emotions change daily and are like small to large wave tsunamis, and they all work together, so finding the dynamic of all those waves and expressing them without a filter of thought is where I try to be. That and technique inspire me because its rare.
Who are your favorite choreographers out there now?
I am a huge fan Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Crystal Pyte, and Matthew Bourne to name a few.
You recently starred in The Accompanist. Tell me about the story and your role.
Well the story is about a ballet dancer trying to find his way back to his capacity amidst being in an abusive relationship. He finds comfort in an accompanist who tries to help him achieve his dreams and soon falls in love with him. Things don’t necessarily go as planned as my character becomes torn between the two. It is such a great storyline, especially for Gay men who are 50+. It was such a wonderful experience and I was so happy to be a part of a narrative that is bringing this conversation to the table. Many men grow up and go by the book – school, college, degree, wife, family, home, etc. There are so many men that get to a point where they have done all the above and at the same time have lost sight of who they are and can’t turn a blind eye anymore. Many men are married with agreements on the side with other men to keep secrecy and many don’t want to live like that. So to be a part of a film that addressed that, I was very humbled and grateful.
Tell me about your clothing line, Marcelino. Where does the name come from?
My clothing line Marcelino comes from my middle name, which fully is Richard Marcelino Palomino, but it was inspired by my grandfather whose name was Marcelino. I never knew him, but feel I can get to know him through fashion and designing.
What inspires you when you’re designing for your clothing line?
Well since I’m a dancer, I am inspired by movement, wind, nature, leaves, flowers, landscapes, colors, fabrics, textures. I love things that have many layers or things hanging from individually, so that all together, they can be family but also have their own personality or expressiveness. I try to give them voice.
You’re also doing music. Is there anything you don’t do? Tell me about the music. What’s next and what kind of music can we expect from you?
Yeah, there are things I don’t do. I actually started learning music theory in high school so that is a part of me. Now it’s just all electronic and done in a music studio as a opposed to a band room. My current single is so groovy and such a dance vibe. “Shadow” is now available on all platforms. You know what to do.
Our site is called Talk Nerdy with Us because we’re all about the inner nerd. What is something you are currently nerding out about?
OMG I mean are you kidding me?! That’s the only reason I’m talking to you because I am all about that nerd life [laughs]! I mean honestly! I am a scientist and mathematician, first. I have a highly analytical brain, so dance training to me is literally exercising my capacity to maintain strength and control in all planes in space. I am a super vegan, so I am actually putting together a recipe list for all my new vegan friends who need some help in tackling the beginning stages of being vegan. I also have 22 plants so I love watering them, tending to them, talking to them, etc. [laughs] So there’s all that. I could talk your ear off, but we will save that for another time.