By the age of 10, Renan Cerdeiro knew what he wanted.
It was always my dream to be in a big and famous ballet company and dance nice parts, he says. He also knew he could not fulfill that dream at home in Rio de Janeiro.
We dont have many ballet companies in Brazil. So I always told my parents I would go away and live in another country to dance. They would laugh at me.
Eight years later, Cerdeiro might be the one laughing, if he werent so busy living his dream. At only 18, he is a soloist at Miami City Ballet, promoted from apprentice just last month, dancing solo roles in two of the three ballets on the program Friday through Sunday. In March, he plays the ardent male lead in the companys premiere of Romeo and Juliet.
Cerdeiro has rocketed up the ranks since he started three years ago as one of a group of talented Brazilian students at MCBs school. While his compatriots have also moved quickly into the company, Cerdeiro has shot even farther ahead, propelled by a rare combination of physique, talent, intelligence and charisma.
Hes an absolute treasure for us, says MCB director Edward Villella. Good male dancers are hard to come by, especially tall, good-looking, versatile ones, and Cerdeiro has danced leads in Jerome Robbins nuanced Dances at a Gathering, George Balanchines crackling neo-classical Four Temperaments and several of Twyla Tharps casually virtuoso pieces, including Nine Sinatra Songs which he will dance this weekend.
He has a wonderful facility. He has dancer smarts and instincts, Villella says. He learns quickly; hes very handsome.
How unusual is it to find that combination at in someone so young?
Outstanding, says Villella, a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes. When we see talent that gets us excited, we dont wait.
On a recent weekday, Cerdeiros smarts along with the rest of him were getting a workout. Upstairs in one of MCBs sunny Miami Beach studios, he was learning one of the lead roles in Balanchines monumental Symphony in Three Movements. The part requires him to bound like a joyful deer, then whip through a kind of modernist jitterbug to the jagged Stravinsky music.
So, is this easy? principal dancer Katia Carranza asks impishly, and Cerdeiro shakes his head, blinking and pointing to his temple, as if to signal Im thinking.
Rehearsing with him are Carranza, Renato Penteado, Patricia and Jeanette Delgado, all seasoned principal dancers, instructing Cerdeiro with a flurry of demonstrations and a chattering mix of Spanish and English (which he has also learned since arriving here). But they treat him with affectionate respect.
You did four! Patricia Delgado shrieks laughingly, as Cerdeiro spins grimacing out of a torrent of turns, You cant possibly do five!
Hes great, says Penteado, 30, a fellow Brazilian who has been something of a mentor. Hes smart, quick. He absorbs very fast. Hes not only a dancer; hes an artist. He was born to do this.
Cerdeiros intensity and seriousness make others tend to forget how young he is. Jeanette Delgado remembers how he encouraged her through a bout of nerves during last falls PBS shoot for a Dance in America segment.