Updated: May 23
"Dance is the world's favorite metaphor."
I once went to a retreat organized by the Oasis Latino LGBT Wellness Center, called Construyendo Tu Yo Ideal [Building Your Ideal Self]. It was an event that really helped me discover more about myself and choose again. But this time, with ME in mind. In that retreat I met some beautiful people, and one of them was Walter Battistini. Who, with his enigmatic and contagious smile, filled me and other participants with great joy. What caught my attention about Walter was when talking to him, he made you feel that you were important, and that is a rare trait to find. It was as if he had known me forever. It isn’t often when you coincide in time and space with someone like that. After that, we became great friends; always attentive to what each one is doing. Walter has been and continues to be a person who inspires me to fight for my dreams.
Who is Walter Battistini?
Why does his story captivate me?
What lessons can we learn from him?
He is from Mendoza, Argentina. From a young age he had the desire to learn to dance and participate in festive events. One day, young Walter shared with his parents the desire to take dance classes. They supported him and enrolled him in a dance school in 1998. During the next two years he explored different styles of dance, while the narrator called “Music”, with a sonorous sound describing every moment in which Walter shared the same dreams with his companions, the same dreams, values and love of art. Among them a spirit grew full of optimism, humility, solidarity and, most importantly, unity. That team unit is exquisitely choreographed in the eyes of the spectators.
In 2000, Walter auditioned for the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón, in the city of Buenos Aires. He was accepted, and he took classes in classical technique, partner techniques, physical preparation, art history and French.
Walter was the only boy in a class full of girls. According to him, he found it interesting; he did not feel excluded, but rather accepted, and he saw an opportunity to open a new path for other boys who would follow. While he was taking the classes, every step he took with the music symbolized a feeling so pure, that it reflected upon his soul. He fell completely in love with ballet.
"When the ballet takes the sea, even the sun rising comes to take a look."
—Anthony T. Hincks
That love for dance motivated him to become a versatile artist; he learned to do a new style called Comedy Ballet. Professional dancers have to take ballet classes on pointe and achieve technical virtuosity. Part of the comedy is dressing up as ballerinas with tutus, false eyelashes, wigs and makeup. In February 2012, Walter introduced this style in his hometown Mendoza. When something new is introduced into a community, rejection is often forthcoming. A few days after the performance, he received a message on Facebook, saying "it's a shame what you did, you were making fun of what traditional ballet is."
According to Walter, every time he can go on stage he does so with respect and great devotion. He feels ballet gives him the freedom to forget everything; his past, his future and only live in that moment and space to the fullest. In his trance, he slowly conveys his deepest feelings to the beat of the music. It is not a joke, but a total respect, worth the redundancy. Negative comments will be in abundance on many trails. This did not stop him, but rather it prompted him to do more, and dream big.
On two walls of his room, he has twenty images of New York City, which he had acquired on his first six-month visit in 2010; he was enchanted with the place. These images were the first and last thing each day that the window of his soul/eye saw. He let himself be carried away by the journey of his imagination to write a beautiful story of what his life would be like living in that city. He told himself "Oh ... I want to live in that city!" He said it with such intensity he felt her touching his hands; he could smell the scent of the streets as he walked, seeing the great buildings reflecting the light of the sun and the moon. The song of yellow taxis and underground trains accompanied him with joy. It felt so real, even though it wasn't. Those trips were the perfect reflection of a phrase written on his wall that politely said, “Be free”. Free with thought, free with his steps and free with his soul. This motivated him, and he has traveled there three times.
Walter knew that to achieve his goal, he would have to leave his people and the land which had tenderly saw him born and raised. On March 9, 2016, with suitcases full of dreams, he left his homeland and arrived in New York City, in the United States. The photos of that enigmatic city full of skyscrapers, were not empty; rather, now he was inside it as the protagonist.
Shortly thereafter, he got a job and continued his ballet studies with internationally renowned teachers at Step On Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and Ballet Art City Center. During this time, he had the support of Jonathan Mendez, a friend and partner in the ballet company. He helped Walter see the beauty of who he is now, and who he can become. He has been the umbrella that covers him in rainy moments. This leads me to remember the phrase of Juan Salvador Gaviota, who said, "flying alone is not flying." No one succeeds alone, we all need each other.
Walter's discipline and dedication, helped him to become part of the Comedy Ballet company called: Ballet Eloelle-GranDiva. According to Walter, there are no more than thirty-five professional dancers who are dedicated to this style of ballet, where they star in male and female roles. The name implies dancing with pointe shoes, and in traditional ballet, only women dance in slippers. His passion has allowed him to travel to different countries including Chile, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, South Africa, China, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. He has done dances in the streets, in parks and on television shows, including Trasnoche 26, in Argentina, and Expresso Show, in Cape Town South Africa, among others.
At present, Walter teaches ballet classes, sharing his history and knowledge with his students. He has been someone who has shown that art itself is a valuable source that feeds the world. Art unites us and leads us to dream in new waters, for a better life full of possibilities. At each step, he, with admirable respect continued to color his life and inspire others, to know that yes, passion can be lived. Walter's story caused a roar in my heart that gave birth to the desire to write it and share it with you today.
"Never stop dreaming, dreams come true."