No Excuses: Meet instructor Raphael Blanco

No Excuses: Meet instructor Raphael Blanco

Gymbox instructor Raphael Blanco, 27, teaches Ragga Dancehall and Commercial Dance. "Dance is my life" he says. We meet him.

Hi Raphael! What do you love most about being an instructor?

I love to see people having fun and to be a part of their journey to a healthy lifestyle. My passion for performing arts is beyond comprehension! Just sharing the dance floor with others makes me happy.

Cute. You started dancing aged 6. Did you ever envisage it becoming a career?

When I started dancing so young, I knew deep inside that I would be doing this for the rest of my life. As an instructor, choreographer, or director – anything related to the arts and health industry. For the past 20 years I have put all my focus and time into the performing arts. Dance is my life. I don't think I ever thought I'd actually be doing something else.

What was it about dance that caught your passion?

Although I had supporting parents regarding my career, my childhood wasn't easy. Dance started as a hobby and soon became a safe haven. That was the first time I felt in love with the dance floor. I could shout, with my mouth closed. I could express what I needed without saying a word. On the dance floor I learned to feel the passion, and that's what caught me.

Amazing. Were you ever teased as a kid?

Yes I was. But, by the time I was 13 I was already dancing for a professional dance company, so I started to be surrounded by people who actually supported the work. Brazilians are very cultural people, and there's a lot of work and support for the arts industry. If not by the government, then by philanthropy. After nearly 10 years living in the UK, I believe the cultural attitude to men and dance is no different than in Brazil.

What kind of dancer are you?

I grew up as a hip hop dancer – free style, popping, locking, breakdance – but I've had many years of contemporary and classical ballet, which I love and respect. Mostly, though, I have focused on street jazz, hip hop, dancehall, commercial, femme fusion and contemporary ballet. I have found my own by fusing all of these different dances together, which I call 'urban contemporary dance'.

Who inspires you?

Anyone who has a positive attitude towards life. Anyone who does it for the love of it. Anyone who finds a reason to smile, for no reason. These people are my inspiration.

Adorable. What is the schedule for a professional dancer?

It really depends what I'm working on. When I was in a dance company I would train for about 7 hours a day, which would include 3 hours of classes such as acrobatics, ballet, contemporary, hip hop, plus 4 hours of rehearsals. Today I teach a few classes from Monday to Friday in London, and occasionally I travel around Europe teaching workshops on the weekends. It can be a very challenging and tight schedule, but if you love it, it's worth it.

Do you dance around the house on your own?

Definitely! I'm very hyperactive, so I do it all the time. Sometimes I do a 'silly dance' just for fun, but since this is my job I also dance in the house to create dance routines to teach, or just to practise. It's fun!

What song do you freak out to when you hear it?

There are so many! At the moment I can't get enough of Creep by TLC. That song was released the year I started dancing.

Have you ever had an accident during a performance, like Madonna falling off the stage?

Poor Madonna, that must have hurt. Thankfully that has never happened to me, but once I forgot to go on stage when the music started playing.