Updated: May 17
Movement Coach & Freelance Dancer
Ruben is an Italian professional dancer and movement coach based in London. He performed for the Bavarian State Ballet for four years before moving to the National Ballet of Portugal where he danced as a demi-soloist performing classical and contemporary repertoire.
For the past five years, he's been living and working in London as a freelancer. He has worked commercially for numerous brands such as Reebok Fitness, Vogue Italia, Stella McCartney, Heineken, and more. Whilst working commercially he has found love and peace through yoga which he now shares to help others live a happy and chilled life.
We asked Ruben to reflect upon his career transition.
After you danced with the Bavarian State Ballet and the National Ballet of Portugal, you decided to quit ballet and transition into commercial work. It seemed like you were on the fast-track as a demi-soloist in the company, why the decision to work/perform on a cruise ship?
Ruben De Monte: I danced for 4 years with the Bavarian State Ballet before moving on to Portugal where I spent one year performing with the National Ballet. Whilst I really enjoyed both companies and the lifestyle I had the urge to move on, travel and do something different. As with most ballet dancers, I started ballet at a really young age and by the age of 24, I had already performed professionally for 5 years. I realized that it was enough for me and decided to quit theater work. I wasn't sure in which direction I wanted to go, but sometimes you just have to follow your gut instinct and accept what's coming your way. I stumbled on a cruise audition, got the job, quit the current one with the National Ballet and left for sea for 6 months. There wasn't really a reason, I just needed a change and that came up. Everything was planned in ballet school so it felt good to take a different turn.
After the cruise, you relocated to London (where you're based now) to pursue freelance work full-time. As a classically trained dancer, did you feel that you had to start from scratch in the commercial world?
Ruben: It was definitely different. In full-time employment, you get a lot of support and your only worry is staying healthy and performing to your max (when I say 'only' I don't actually mean it.. it is a lot of hard work!) but as a freelancer, you need more than that, you have to learn to make contacts on a daily bases while constantly go to castings and auditions because there's no money coming in if you don't work. It wasn't something I was ready for as I had only auditioned a couple of times before getting into ballet companies and being on a fixed monthly salary.
So I had to start from scratch, especially not knowing London or having any contacts in town or the industry. I really enjoyed starting over, it felt like a new career and different in so many ways and it gave me the freedom to find what I liked doing. As dancers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, what we are going to do or be, but sometimes the best way and for me is to experience it day by day and see where it takes you.
You now carry multiple titles: movement coach, yoga instructor, and commercial/modern dancer. Did you ever feel that ballet held you back in terms of growth or was classical training a catalyst?
Ruben: I think everything that is in your past is part of your growth and your persona, it's hard to look at it thinking it held me back as it actually brought me to where I am today. Ballet gave me a great starting point, especially done at a high level, it always comes in handy. Most of my commercial work has been rooted in ballet or contemporary dance so ballet has definitely helped shape me as a freelancer. Dance is so widely seen everywhere nowadays that there is definitely space for everyone, you just need to find where you belong.
What's been the most memorable or rewarding experience in your freelance career to date?
Ruben: I don't think I have anything specific in mind that made me go WOW! But I did recently shoot a TV advert for Heinekin so my parents can see me on television and I was also published in Vogue Italia. I think I'm most proud of the work I've done, but I also don't like to make a thing about it anymore as it happens really quickly that sometimes you just don't have the time to enjoy it fully.
You're currently signed with W Model Management in London. How difficult was it to get commercial representation?
Ruben: If you start from scratch you'll need a portfolio with as much variety as possible, which is hard if you haven't done any work. Once you've got that sorted you just have to be yourself and make sure you can carry that to castings.
On the topic of representation and expanding one's portfolio, how important is it for freelancers like your self to network in the industry?
Ruben: It's important to have as many contacts as you can. If you work well, people will probably contact or book you again. I do, however, think there is a fine line in networking. You can do it for the sake of having people's names and getting work or because you're actually interested in someone's work. The second one normally works best but it requires more effort.
What advice do you have for dancers thinking about career transition or about to go on the journey?
Ruben: Take some time to find out what you like. Maybe you think you'll love something but then don't enjoy it as much as you thought. Be open to possibilities! Always do what you truly love and you'll be happy forever, things will work out just fine.
Connect with Ruben via
Spotify: COOKING WITH RUBES Playlist