How Dancer Daniel Robert Silva Went from Poverty to Living out His Dream

A pioneering ballet dancer whose every move tells a story, Silva channels the emotions of his challenging upbringing into his craft.
Reading time 3 minutes

Photography by Wendelien Daan

Fashion by Majid Karrouch

Creative Direction by Nicolette Goldsmann and Tanne Gielen

Grooming by  David Koppelaar (House of Orange)

Brazilian dancer Daniel Robert Silva has come a long way since his rather tumultuous childhood. He grew up in Uberlândia, a dangerous sector situated in SouthEastern Brazil, where he was constantly facing drug violence, burglaries, homelessness and death. "Death was never far away. As a child, I attended a funeral about three or four times a year and I remember that at one point I thought: this person is now in a better place. It’s not a healthy way of thinking for a child” he boldly states.

Considering what some would consider demerit points to his success, it’s remarkable to see a man both grow and excel in his professional field, especially in the world of dance. His chosen path? Ballet. It’s a craft he’s been fortunate to hone all over the world and now he sits as coryphée at one of the world’s most leading ballet companies. His success is fueled by his desire to escape his past, but with all the golden accolades that he’s been subjected to, his past, no matter how hard he tries, will always be a part of his future. “The situation in which I grew up and my reality now, the difference is so drastic, he says. “I have lived in great poverty and now end up in situations where I find myself next to the Dutch King and Queen. I fully realize what my talent is and the value of it”.

Earlier this year came the premiere of Cinderella, where Daniel embodied on a number of roles, including for the very first time, a few solos: a rank higher than the status of the coryfee that the young Brazilian recently acquired in the hierarchy of the company. "This performance was quite a struggle, I must say because I dance so many different roles. That is a lot of information that my body and head have to store in four weeks time. Now that I am growing in the company, I feel extra pressure: I want to show that I am right on this position and that I am ready for the next step, the next big role” he says.

While work may sometimes get the best of him, he’s never one to forget that having fun is truly what matters the most. “During the dress rehearsal, I had a full black-out: where am I, what am I doing?" He laughs. "I realized that I should not let this happen on the stage. I thought too much. Instead, I have to have confidence. I've rehearsed the piece often enough. Go dance and have fun. That's what I did last night”. And judging from his new outlook, and the smile he emanates when performing, there’s no doubt that the fun will stop.

Looking at his career, while in some ways still in its infancy, it’s a touching sentiment. “I ended up in the magic that I felt when I watched ballet as a child. I now understand how I can evoke that. I now realize that it comes from within and that you can not get it anywhere else than within yourself. People helped me. People believed in me. I have been able to break the cycle thanks to them”, he says. “Going up the stage, knowing what to do and letting go of everything, expressing yourself, whatever your feeling is, mourning your past, every time. And then start again. In fact, it’s the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done”.






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