For Ricardo Koopman, Dance has saved his life. From growing up in the fishing village of Hout Bay, Cape town, he has entertained many with his dancing talents from young age of 4 years old.

He grew up in a very difficult period in history, as well as in his home life. Ricardo had to face many challenges that Apartheid threw at him as well as being discriminated against for being a young boy practising classical ballet.  His home life wasn’t an easy ride too and suffered abuse from a family member at a young age.

None of this could stop Ricardo as his determination, zest for life and giving back was ever present in his dream for bigger and better things. He set off to achieve his goals and dreams.

Riccardo is extremely successful and has made his home town and the Western Cape proud as he has become a highly qualified dance teacher, adjudicator and choreographer.

He has humbly given of his time to teach internationally in the likes of Switzerland [every year], as well as taking trips to Thailand to teach. He also serves on an international adjudicators board.

He doesn’t stop there, he also, at a young age of 15, he started an outreach program in Houtbay, Dance saved my life, where thousands of students have gone through his training. He teaches dance free of charge to 400 students at local schools.

In Ricardo’s own words: “ My passion is to dance but I realized that dance in not enough but to share the gift from God with all children”.

Today, he provides a place of hope and comfort for many young children and his message to younger dancers is:

“To never give up in life,  reach for your goals,  aim high and be humble. To gain focus enter a dance studio and respect the art form of dance. Respect your teachers. Be sure when you call yourself a dancer that it’s not just one genre –  learn all forms of dance. Enter the dance studios with the idea of working hard and most of all be kind.”