Nathaniel Benavides, a Communications major in the School of Arts and Sciences, has done it all. From interning with big name fashion designers like Oscar de la Renta to working as a member of Rutgers University Student Life, Nathaniel’s interests are wide and varying. However, dancing has always been one of his main passions.
I’ve been dancing since I was seven and have been in and out of different programs,” Nathaniel explains.
This summer, an unexpected connection with a Brazilian religious ministry led him to what he describes as a one of a kind experience. After the ministry observed his work, Nathaniel was offered an opportunity to go and teach ballet at the prestigious JC HOUSE Academia de Dança.
I would teach ballet and a bit of modern and contemporary but they would teach me samba and sertaneja, a type of Brazilian dance. I also helped with their dance ministry.”
One difficulty Nathaniel experienced was the language barrier he faced with his students, but luckily that was quickly resolved.
I didn’t know Portuguese prior to going to Brazil, that gap of communication, me trying to speak to them, them trying to speak to me, we didn’t understand each other. But when it came to dance, all the ballet vocabulary they understood. So it was good to see that dance is an international language… it’s an art.”
Not only has Nathaniel returned with a new appreciation for travel and Brazil, but he also has some newfound appreciation for himself.
I fell in love with Brazil, I fell in love with its beauty, culture, and its art. It reassured me as a dancer that although I don’t have the ideal dancer body, I am me, and I am a good dancer.”
By Masiel Torres
Photos courtesy of Nathaniel Benavides