He was more talented then...... I think he even knew. This shy, introverted gentlemen, would light up the dance floor with his charm, good looks, coupled with incredible dance skills. Ricky Quintana was one of the early talents that rocked the hustle dance floor. He mastered the art of adagio and performed effortlessly.
Ricky was a dance star.
His dance legacy began while working at the famous Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes, in Manhatten. "I was an usher at the age of 15, when I saw Billy Fajardo & Sandra Rivera perform back up dances for Iris Chacon," recalls Ricky. This was virtually a revelation for him. "Billy was splitting in mid air and making Sandra fly. I knew when I saw them that hustle and theater arts was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," explained Ricky. One of the most popular Discoteques was Ipenema, this is where he met his partner to be, the adorable Lee Rafrano. With no previous dance training, they worked hard and were on the path to becoming accomplished dancers. Ricky & Lee, would compete in local contests and won the opportunity to dance on the televised contest, "Soul Alive". With moderate success, Ricky continued to apply himself and honed his skills. Next, they won the chance of a life time when they qualified to represent New York City on the nationally syndicated TV show, "Dance Fever," the highest rated dance show of the day. Ricky and Lee dazzled television viewers with their sassy routine. Performing to Patrick Hernandez's "Born To Be Alive," they were stellar. They exposed to viewers, watching at home, a dare devil routine never seen on national TV before. The costumes had a Vegas flair as Lee wore a virtual nude body suit that had the network execs biting their nails. Their lifts and tricks were cataclysmic, light years ahead of the competition. The couple left their mark on California. They returned to the big apple where many new doors swung open. They competed against the dominant team, Floyd Chisholm & Nelly Cotto at a contest in Queens. After the competition, they were invited by Floyd & Nelly to join their dance review, The Disco Dance Stars. "It was because of them, I became a professional dancer at the age of 16," says a thankful Ricky. They joined this elite group of multi talented dancers that included, over the years: Gina Figueroa, Carol Famigletti, Lisa Nunziella, Evie Hoover, Danny Llaurado, Arty Philips, Eddie Espinosa and Pat Taverna. Ricky & Lee continued to compete and perform at clubs like the infamous Plato's Retreat. After his gallant return, Ricky bumped into Lisa Nunziella at Club 2001 Odyssey, where the motion picture "Saturday Night Fever" was filmed. The two created a new partnership and entered a dance competition at Club Starship on 42nd Street. They took second place to Eddie Vega & Kenny Gonzales. "Kenny was throwing Eddie around his neck, which blew me away," explains Ricky. From that day on, Eddie and Ricky developed a close relationship. "He was so impressed with my dancing that he took me under his wing. Eddie Vega was the best". Vega encouraged Ricky to study Ballet & Jazz, which he did from the renown Phil Black. As his talents continued to develop, Ricky and Lisa would go on to win The United States Ballroom Championships then The World Dance Championships held in London. This was the most prestigious contest Ricky had ever won. After this competition, Lisa and Ricky captured the World Ballroom Freestyle Championship in Hustle/Theater Arts. They represented the USA and out performed 15 other countries. A very humble Ricky is quick to remember his roots and those who helped guide him. "Eddie and Lisa always encourage me to be the best that I could be. I had the great honor to spend the last five years of Eddie's life touring with him. He was my friend, my mentor and my greatest inspiration. Lisa is always in my thoughts and still gives me hope and encouragement. For me, Lisa is the best of the best."
Ricky had the rare opportunity to dance with some of the most talented "fierce" women in the world of hustle: Lee Rafrano, Lisa Nunziella, Lourdes Jones, Maria Torres, Stracy Diaz and Lisa Paternostra. "They had the attitude and the skills to bring to life the choreography that I had in my heart. Without their collaboration, input and great abilities I would have never been able to accomplish anything."
Ricky also appeared on Star Search, Buscando Estrellas, You Can't Stop The Music (with The Village People), Flight To Jordan (Music Video with Tito Puente), Son of Sam........
To be a dancer of the highest level, it takes many skill sets. Up and comers aspire to possess the impeccable abilities of a Ricky. Whether its his floor grace, performance ability, incredible kicks & Leaps, effortless lifts and tricks - new dancers study performances on TV, observe contests, watch social dancing - molding themselves to be like him. It becomes an inescapable conclusion that Ricky is one of those unique dancers that exudes talent and comes along only once.....every few decades.
Ricky currently teaches private lessons at Fazil's Dance Studio and Ripley Grier Studios in NY. "Dancing has been one of he best things in my life. It is good for your mind, body and soul. Above all else, it should be fun, so enjoy it, because dancing can change your life - it changed mine. I plan to dance until the day I die.
(Ricky is a member of the Hustle Hall Of Fame. To view pictures please visit http://www.mjames.org/hustle_teams.html