Ricky Palomino is a multi-talent. He is a dancer, choreographer, designer, recording artist and actor who is best known for his recurring roles dancing, choreographing on So You Think You Can Dance and Dance Moms (LifetimeTV). He has worked closely with Abby Lee Miller, Tyce Diorio (Taylor Swift), Mia Michaels (Madonna), Tessandra Chavez (Janet Jackson) and Chris Scott (Step Up Movie). Ricky’s creative genius put him behind the scenes as a choreographer and producer on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition (LifetimeTV), American Beauty Star and Raising Asia. He choreographed music videos for Blake McGrath, Alyson Stoner, Simple Creatures and choreographed live performances for Kristine W, Deborah Cox, The Pointer Sisters, and Patti Labelle. The award-winning film The Accompanist (Cannes Film Festival 2019), sold to 14 territories in Europe and to English speaking countries, is Ricky’s starring film debut. Ricky’s professional dance career started when he joined the Cedar Lake Ballet Dance Company touring nationally for four seasons. As a master dance teacher, touring nationally, training top celebrities and consulting competitive dancers keeps him on his toes. He frequently teaches to his original music available on all popular music sites. His album titled Hyperactive Involvement, is under the artist name Ricky Marcelino Palomino. Current releases including, Eleven, and, Ricky’s Song, reflect his eclectic style and expression of emotion. Marcelino, Ricky’s High Fashion line has been showcased during fashion week and in couture boutiques in Hollywood. Ricky advocates and gives back using his creativity to help causes and charities that support diversity.
Hi Ricky, please tell us a little about you?
Well, My name is Richard Marcelino Palomino and I go by Ricky and I am a Dancer and Choreographer. I bring music to life, that is my job. But I also really love instructing and educating. I started dancing at 14 years old, was also in the marching band, jazz band, and symphonic band and just loved dancing. I ended up in NYC, booked a premiere ballet company, Cedar Lake Ballet, started teaching on dance conventions, booked So You Think You Can Dance, assisted Mia, Tyce, Tessandra, and Chris Scott, then later choreographed for Dance Moms, and Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. I love plants, I have 20 of them, I produce music and have three albums out, I love fashion and have my fashion line, Marcelino. I love my family, friends, and community and love exploring and traveling whenever possible, and that’s quite often actually. Lol. I always find myself in a new place even where I live. City and culture change so much and there’s no other way to keep in touch with everything then being in it first hand.
When did you start dancing?
I feel like I was dancing in my mom’s belly Lol, Then I got to do gymnastics at 5 and just loved floor routines. I was my stage! but, I got to start training at 14 years old in high school and at Ballet Arizona.
Did you take dancing classes?
I took ballet and jazz in high school, Ballet after school Ceballos, and did ballet ALL WEEKEND at Ballet Arizona! Haha – Like, 12 hours a day. I was OBSESSED!
How did you got involved in So You Think You Can Dance and Dance Moms?
I flew to Dallas last minute to audition after a friend said I should. I had never watched the show before and they were in their third season. I got me a hotel across the street from For Theater and was asked to come back the next day. I almost didn’t make it, so I had to do a partnering round, and then a solo, That’s when I knew they were planning the best season yet. I got my ticket to Vegas and that’s where I hit it off with Mia Michaels.
For Dance Moms, I’ve known Abby Lee Miller for so long, she’s a great friend of mine. I was teaching at the convention where the very first episode of Dance Mom’s was shot. I ended up being a liaison for the production crew and the convention/competition. If anybody needed to talk to each other, somehow it went through me. Long and behold, 2 seasons later, I get a call saying Abby has had it with the Hyland sisters, Brooke, and Paige who were original castmates and favorites. Anyway, I came in and set some solos on them, and worked with them, and tried to pick their confidence up because they were under so much pressure. With Brooke, I was proud of her for pushing through and showing off her best self that day. I wanted to see her use her length more but stayed focus on her accomplishment. With Paige, I was proud of her because she was trusting of me, and was becoming her own, stretching herself as an artist, but once showtime hit, she let her head get the best of her and ran off the stage. I was even in the wings, doing choreography with her but she couldn’t overcome it. But she was young and that pressure is tough, especially when you don’t have the support of your dance teacher, whom you love very much at that moment. It was a crazy time. I’ve only been back to say in some Dance Moms episodes. I’m kind of like that person people find comfort in because I listen to them and empathize. It’s a tough industry.
What’s the best thing about these shows?
I think the best things about these shows are that they expose more dance to the world. Showing how people of all shapes and sizes express themselves with their bodies. Dance is a universal language and needs no words to convey a feeling. I wish there were more dance shows focused on the hard work, and all the emotional struggles, the mental stress we go through to make it look easy. Dancers are very special people and I am so happy and proud to be a part of the dance community.
How is working with well-known artists as a choreographer and producer?
You know, every artist is different and so special in their unique way. First off, I am always very humbled to be asked onto a project, and second, I try to listen, understand and help the artist convey their truth for that certain project. It takes a lot of meditation for me before working with anyone because I get super awkward in front of big-name celebrities, or artists, or even other dancers. I get the worst anxiety in public so when its time to work, I have to be at that loving and comfortable place so that we have the bond and support that would equal as a family members kind of love.
Which celebrities would you like to dance/work/produce with in the future?
OMG, everyone!!! I am at my happiest when I am working and especially on set. As artists and celebrities are concerned, I feel we all learn so much from each other and kind of fill each other up in those tiny little places in your soul. So I would love to work with everyone at some point if that is possible. My dreams jobs would be to work with Madonna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, FKA Twigs, Justin Timberlake, Billie Eilish, or Bjork to name a few.
What do you feel just before hitting a stage?
I feel like I slip into another reality. Everything just gets super focused like a put a magnifying glass over my eyes and I get lost in it. I perform for others but also make sure it is for me just as equally. I never want to feel like a product and I’m just doing a job. Dancing is freeing to me and I want to share that freedom and hopefully inspire someone else to find the same flow for theirs.
Any advice for aspiring dancers?
Yes, I do! It is never too late to get started. Fall as many times as you can, take up and encompass as much space as humanly possible, jump and fly as high in the sky as you can, make corrections, be a good human being, learn something from everyone, ask questions, associate yourself to the conversation, talk about your feelings to the ones you love, and talk about your dreams whenever you can. You are all creators in this universe and EVERYONE is valid, and EVERYONE is required on this journey through life so that we can all inspire each other.
What type of dance do you like best?
I love love love Neo-Classical and Contemporary Ballet. There is just nothing like it to me. And it is so so hard to achieve that it narrows talent to very few. I love teaching Neo-Classical and Contemporary, Jazz, and Ballet. I just love dance. I love watching hip hop numbers. They are so electric and exciting. Ballroom dancing is really beautiful to watch, also Tribal dancing is so so special.
Tell us about your music side as Marcelino now Ricky Palomino.
When I started producing in New York, I was dancing with Cedar Lake Ballet Company owned by Nancy Walton Laurie. It was a premiere ballet company and I wasn’t identifying with my given name, Richard, because I felt it was my father’s name and not my own. Ricky felt too young for where I was artistical. So I went by Marcelino, my middle name and also my grandfather’s name. I never knew my grandfather, so there was prestige about him that I found intriguing. It wasn’t until I booked So You Think You Can Dance that I took back the name Ricky Palomino. They liked it more and felt it connected to bigger audiences. I felt ok with this because my family calls me Ricky. So my music has always been released as a reflection of where I am.
And about your hits 11 and Ricky’s Song? And your upcoming release Shadow.
Well, these songs are special to for many reasons. One, no longer am I producing and creating on my own. These tracks were all produced with my best buds and family, Nicci Funicelli, Shayon Daniels, and Jim Funicelli. For me, it enriches the whole vibe of the songs. When someone can relate and resonate with a piece with you, then you know you’re on to something because you share the same feelings. So I love having a team to work with whom I love and respect. Shadow releases soon and was written about my anxiety and severe depression. I had to personify this void that was taking over my life and I called him Shadow. He sometimes has a grasp of me and I can’t get out of it or away from it. It makes you breathe hard but that’s where I just dance it out or write exactly what I’m feeling.
What do you do in your free time?
OMG! I mean, I love food so I cook, like a lot. And I’m vegan so I love experimenting with new recipes and cooking for family and friends. Uhm, I also love plants, I have 19 of them and they are getting so big and are so beautiful. I need to name all of them. I also love fashion and designing so created my fashion line. I’m obsessed. I’m working on some custom pieces right now for my show I’m doing for my birthday. I’m so excited! Dec 2nd, be ready!!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself performing through dance and music a lot more. I have been a teacher so long and I have gotten lost in that, but I dear friend came to class recently and she told, Ricky, you never show your work. You never show them how you do it and you don’t hold them accountable to replicate it. You are too lenient with them, and I couldn’t agree more. So my focus is to not just show my work in class but to perform my music and pieces how I see them. I have trained so much and so hard, I have put so much time and too many real emotional experiences into these mediums that its time to finally share them. I have a great deal of fear and anxiety I deal with daily but I feel strong now. I lost my mother all of a sudden a couple of years ago, my stepdad remarried a month later, and my father was never really a guide for me so these past years have been trying. In 5 years I see myself finding a good groove of touring my music sets and teaching dance in the countries I visit. And also getting my dance training app and vegan restaurant franchise out there.
Who is your celebrity crush?
I mean there are so many beautiful people out there and this time is very fluid which I love because that’s what I identify with. So, I’ll start with my fiancee Matt Cady, he may not be a celebrity but he helps artists be celebrities. He has choreographed with his main lady Meg Lawson for Madonna, Ariana Grande, Ricky Martin, and Lil Mama. He is incredible and I’m so lucky to have someone like him love me as much he does. I am truly excited to marry him. And crush wise, and I think would approve, would be Vanessa Hudgens, Tom Hardy, Jason Statham, Mary-Kate or Ashley Olson. LOL
What actor/actress do you admire the most, and why?
I LOVEEEEEE Zoe Saldana like you have no idea, she is my idol and maybe I should dress up as Zoe for Halloween! LOL. She is a dancer and first appeared in Center Stage and did an incredible job. Next thing I know she is in Avatar, using her movement to create the graceful character who was also athletic and daring for that role. Then I saw her in Columbiana which was all movement-based and highly dramatic and energetic with scenes on rooftops across South America. Now she is Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar 2 and I could not be more than happy for her. And she is Latin and bilingual, is a mother, and is a DANCER! So there’s that and for an actor, I would say, Jackie Chan, surprisingly. He put in his work! He was in Jet Li movies before he got to star in his own. He knows whats it’s like to be in the background and he has created a great franchise and niche for himself that is also movement-based. I admire that and the patience he has. Also, I do love Benedict Cumberbatch for his mocap work on The Hobbit that is purely movement/narrative marriage magic.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
That would be insane but I would want to meet Leonardo Da Vinci. Hands Down No Doubt!! I mean anyone with a pulse should know who Leonardo is and all that he was. He did so much for our world and our culture. He taught us to not dream of incredible possibilities but put them into practice. But there are a couple of years in his life we have no account and they were the years right before he unleashed most of his notes and inventions. I would like to know where he went and what he did during that time. What did he experience in those two years and what questions was he asking himself. Ya know? He was more special than people realize.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Lunch at my place, cooking for friends, rooftop pool and jacuzzi looking over DTLA and exchanging real stories. It’s so important to do that and talk about everything.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Well, everything I eat is healthy because I’m vegan and don’t let certain toxins in my system. You know, in the UK and Europe, 2000 ingredients are NOT allowed in our foods. In the US, there are only 110 ingredients allowed. That just blows my mind. But we will save that for another time. But I eat all plant-based everything all day every day. Woot woot!
And your favorite cheat food?
I mean it’s hard to cheat on anything good. I truly indulge in fruit. I like to buy strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, pineapple, and grapes and mix them all. I do this like 5 times a week in different variations. It just fuels my soul! One day I will own a restaurant franchise and will share the goodness I can make you.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I would like to perform on TV and more Films as a Dancer and Artist, tour the world and teach on the way. I want to get my fashion line into major stores around the world and I want my franchise of vegan restaurants. These things are all a part of me and I want to combine them all into one.
What music do you like?
I love house and techno first. I could listen to it for hours but I also love jazz and blues. I love narrative and beautiful melodies. I love hip hop and the stories that unfold there. As artists we are so vulnerable but if you are creating and sharing. I will have an ear for you for sure. I love music.
Do you support any charities?
At the moment I don’t have a specific one I support, every couple of years I take a chunk of time and give back to my community in Los Angeles. My last event was a dance show called Daylight Come, which gave free dance education and the opportunity to work with local choreographers in the industry, then perform in an actual theater. The whole process was about 6 weeks and brought a lot of amazing people together. Next, I’m helping a couple of organizations with a benefit concert at Auburn University.
How would you describe your fashion style?
My style is a blend 15th to 16th century Spanish, Parisian, and European classic mixed with a modern modest feel. I am inspired by peacocks, octopuses, trees, and the ocean. I love layering jewelry and love gold and all types of gems. That is inspired by the Cleopatra Era in early Egypt. Shoes are inspired by 17th-century designers for colonials with a high heel. All my shoes have lifted heels on them.
Besides dancing what do you do to stay fit?
I work out when I’m feeling, I walk a lot, I love exploring new places, restaurants, stores and I live in downtown LA and NYC so there’s so much to see. And. I usually take the stairs. No elevators.
Any message for the fans?
I don’t believe I have fans but maybe just extended family. Just know that I support you as much as you support me and it humbles me that my dance and music have affected you wholeheartedly. Thank you guys for bringing me into your hearts and thoughts.
What do you think of Social Media?
I think social media is whatever you make of it. Like social circles, the world is vast and filled an infinite amount of information so if you are looking for drama. I think you will eventually find it. If you are looking for fame, there’s that too. I use it to keep my huge family informed with what I’m doing and just open it to everyone else who wants to come on the ride. I love creativity and love sharing and being inspired by others.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: Do it now because we are never promised tomorrow.
Song: Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
Movie: Aquaman with Jason Momoa
Travel Destination: London
Sports Team: Manchester United
Cover Photo: Rob Daly
Dance photo: Quinn Wharton
Black Jacket: Vince Trupsin