Ruben Ameling

Born: 1991, Bogotá (Colombia)
Education: Royal Ballet School, Antwerp; Codarts, Rotterdam
Experience: Introdans (since August 2012)

He was seven and was taking lessons from his teacher Grietje in a ballet class in Turnhout, Belgium. Grietje already suspected that Ruben Ameling might turn out to be a major dance talent, but she was intentionally still keeping the pressure off him. “I danced the role of Jip in a ballet about Jip & Janneke. I thought it was great to be in the leading role. To stand up front. To be seen. But what I liked most of all was that I had to rehearse more than the rest. Working on it for longer, practicing harder. I wasn’t that interested in Jip himself.”

Under the spell of dance

It was clear that Ruben had found his calling. He was an active and nimble child but he can still remember the moment that he fell under the spell of dance. “I was six and to mark a special family event we went to see a performance of Swan Lake in Carré theatre. He can’t remember exactly what the event was. “It was my gran’s idea”. But he remembers what he was wearing. “I had a black shirt with white dots and on this I had pinned a golden horse brooch with a big glittering stone.” And he knows how he felt. “It felt like coming home.” A feeling that one wouldn’t necessarily expect when you’re an adopted child from Colombia and live with your Dutch family in Belgium. “I know that I thought it was all fantastic. The atmosphere in Carré, the audience dressed in their fine clothes. I spent the entire performance sitting cross-legged on my plush chair. I saw the prince dancing and all I thought was ‘I want to do that, too’.”

From horseback to the stage

But it took a while before Ruben finally found his path to dance. “I rode horses at that time. But don’t imagine too much, please. It was just riding round in a few circles, on tired-out ponies in a paddock.” Ruben’s voice betrays that he didn’t enjoy it that much. “And it turned out I was allergic, too. So that came to an end pretty quickly. Strangely enough, dancing had dropped out of sight a little, but my mother still clearly remembered how I had responded in Carré. So she sent me to Grietje’s dance lessons.”

From horseback to the stage. Even though Grietje did her best to keep the pressure off little Ruben for a while longer, her efforts were soon in vain. At the age of eleven he was accepted at the Royal Ballet School in Antwerp. “Once again I had that feeling of coming home. I thought it was great. The hard work, the endless practice and always looking for ways of getting even better.”


Ruben is a perfectionist. “Even after rehearsals and performances I’m still hyperaware of my body. I think that I can control my body to 99 percent and I’ll always keep working to make it 100 percent. And for this I need to practice. Repeat things time and again, check, go back, improve and do it again. I visualise a lot. In my head I’ve got the perfect picture of how it should look and I then try to get as close to that as I can. My body is an instrument for creating beauty. I also often watch other dancers who I rate highly. I try to find out what sensation they had in their body during their dance and to incorporate this physically in myself.”

The artistic and the extravagant

The artistic and the extravagant are also symbolic for Ruben offstage. “I like to completely surround myself with beautiful things. Beautiful things to look at, but above all beautiful things to wear. So fashion is my second home after dance. I can sometimes spend several hours on a look – it may seem extreme but for someone who is used to having all eyes on him, it’s really not such a big thing.” Ruben laughs.

The laugh makes way for a serious expression when Ruben is asked what he would still like to achieve with Introdans. “What I’d really like?” He is silent for a moment. “A tour to Colombia. To dance with Introdans in Colombia.”