Bi-coastal talent Bennyroyce Royon is the artistic director of Renton-based Evergreen City Ballet, a pre-professional ballet school and performing company, and founder of Bennyroyce Dance, a project-based contemporary company in Brooklyn. (Check out Everygreen City Ballet’s unique take on The Nutcracker here.) Learn about Bennyroyce Royon…
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY and Seattle, WA
First job: The Metropolitan Opera Ballet
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Hiking with friends, camping with family and Pike Place Market on Sundays.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Moving to New York City and continuing my dance studies at The Juilliard School. As a young dancer, it was my dream to live in “The Big Apple.” Through hard work, perseverance and a lot of help from my family and friends, my dream became a reality. Studying at Juilliard was not only a huge personal accomplishment, but a big moment for my family. I come from a Filipino-American upbringing, and most of my family members are nurses and caregivers. I’m the first in my immediate and extended family to be accepted to a prestigious liberal arts school and pursue a career in dance. After Juilliard, I got to travel the world — Europe, Canada, and the US — and even performed on Broadway as an original cast member of the 2015 Broadway Musical Revival of “The King and I.”
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Body image issues and being away from my family for nearly two decades are two major obstacles that I am still working on. Ballet is my first love, and I don’t fit the ideal body type for a male ballet dancer. My experience at Juilliard and NYC opened up my eyes and influenced how I express myself as a person and as an artist. I’ve been away from my immediate family for 18 years and just now catching up on life with them in person. We’ve always kept in touched and I would come home once or twice a year. Being closer to them now means the world to me.
Someone who inspires you and why: Besides my mom and my fiancé? Evergreen City Ballet’s founding artistic director Wade Walthall. Mr. Wade was my first ballet teacher, and he continues to inspire me to this day. He was a principal dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet, and he also danced in Europe with the Dutch National Ballet. He’s our local Nureyev! We both came into dance later in life and also benefited from scholarships. Mr. Wade attended the School of American Ballet under a Ford Foundation Scholarship. I attended Evergreen City Ballet and The Juilliard School under full and partial scholarships. Mr. Wade continues to mentor and advise me in my role as Evergreen City Ballet’s new artistic director.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Focus on the work. Trust in the process. Surround yourself with inspiring people. And never ever give up.
Favorite quote: “Clear your mind, and open out!” –Wade Walthall
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I nerd out over space stuff. I love astronomy…stars, planets, solar systems and galaxies galore! I took my then-boyfriend-now-fiancé to a World Science Festival event at Brooklyn Bridge Park on our first date. I also love ramen, anime and enjoy the process of cleaning as a form of meditation.
What makes someone fabulous: Living life unapologetically, authentically and fully makes a person fabulous in my book!