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Fernando Rodriguez Montaño (born 6 March 1985) is a Colombian dancer who now performs internationally having previously been a soloist with the Royal Ballet, based at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London until December 2020. On November 19, 2015 he made his debut in a principal role when he performed 'the lover' in The Two Pigeons.
He is the first Colombian to dance with the company having joined them in 2006. Fernando has performed in many different countries including Mexico, Russia, Japan, China, Jamaica, Spain, Italy and US, works regularly with the British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, and produces and choreographs his own shows around the world. He was described by BBC TV in 2013 as 'the Colombian Billy Elliot'.
In 2016 Fernando took a sabbatical and returned to Colombia to visit his family and be a judge on 52 episodes of the first ever Colombian series of Dancing with the Stars, known locally as Bailando con las Estrellas.
He was also the subject of a BBC documentary, 'Dancing for Peace', that was broadcast in the UK and around the world in 2016. On September 10th 2016 Montaño premiered 'Foot-Ba', his new fusion of dance and football, at the globally televised opening ceremony of the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Cali.
Montaño was born in Buenaventura on the Pacific coast of Colombia into very poor area of the country but at the age of 14 won a scholarship to the National Ballet School of Cuba where he won several prizes at the International Ballet Contest in Havana, Cuba, and then joined the Cuban National Ballet. He also trained at La Scala and Teatro Nuovo di Torino, Italy where he was spotted by the Director of the English Ballet School, Jane Hucker and Niurka de Saa and invited to the UK to audition, following which he joined the Royal Ballet in 2006 where he was mentored by Carlos Acosta.
In 2010 Montaño was promoted to First Artist and has been featured in increasingly higher profile roles. His repertory includes Colas (La Fille mal gardée), Jester (Cinderella), Bluebird (The Sleeping Beauty), Caterpillar (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Benvolio and the balcony pas de deux (Romeo and Juliet), pas de six (Giselle), pas de trois (Fool’s Paradise) and roles in La Vivandière, Raymonda Act III and Chroma.
On February 9, 2014 Montaño produced the world premiere of Narcissus, at the Hippodrome Theatre in London. An evening of live ballet, opera, poetry and classical music concluded with the screening of the new short dance film by Italian director and choreographer Giorgio Madia and starring Montaño. It was filmed at Hotel Therme Vals in Switzerland and set to the music of Claude Debussy’s 1894 composition ‘Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun’.
Dame Vivienne Westwood designed the costumes and was guest of honour at the premiere. Composer Carl Davis was also in attendance to see Montaño premiere his newly choreographed dance to Davis's The Lady of the Camellias which he performed with his colleague from the Royal Ballet, Yasmine Naghdi.
In the summer of 2014 he was promoted to Soloist and toured Russia, China and Taiwan with the Royal Ballet. In July he led a group of nine dancers from the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet to Colombia where they performed three shows with him at the Teatro Colon after he officially re-opened the National Opera House in Bogota in the company of President Santos.
During the 2015-16 season his appearances included Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, The Two Pigeons and The Nutcracker.
In October 2015 the Colombian/Puerto Rican feature film 'Fragmentos de Amor' was released. Directed by Fernando Vallejo it was the screen debut of Montaño in a small role as a Salsa Dancer.
On November 19, 2015 he made his debut in a Principal role with the Royal Ballet as The Lover during their performance of Frederick Ashton's 'The Two Pigeons'
In the summer of 2016 he toured Japan with the Royal Ballet and was the co-producer and lead performer in 'Vicenza in Lirica 2016 - Shakespeare e Da Porto, lirica d'Amore' at the Teatro Olimpico theatre in Vicenza. During the evening Fernando performed the Balcony and Death scenes from Romeo and Juliet with Roberta Marquez
The 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup was awarded to Colombia and on September 10th 2016 the opening ceremony was staged at the 18,000 seater Colisea El Pueblo indoor arena in Cali. Montaño was asked to create a new dance and used the occasion to debut 'Foot-Ba', his new mix of dance and football based on the moves and personalities of some of the world's most iconic players. He was supported by 40 dancers from local dance group Swing Latino.
In January 2018 he spoke and performed at The Hay Festival in Cartagena.
He took a one year sabbatical from the Royal Ballet from October 2019 and has performed since that time with the Cuban National Ballet as well as dancing in shows in the USA, Peru, Paris and Colombia.
In 2020 he took part in the Hay Festival in the UK and Peru and was listed by Forbes Colombia as one of the 50 most influential creative Colombians.
Fernando is the Patron of 'Children Change Colombia', formally known as 'Children of the Andes'.
In May 2013 he produced and starred in a gala event in the Matcham Room Theatre at the Hippodrome in London which raised £28,000 for the charity Children of the Andes. He repeated the event in June 2014 and more than £15,000 was raised for the charity. As well as hosting a wide range of Latin America performers he performed two specially created rock-ballet duets with Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera
On October 21, 2014 he produced 'Fernando Montano's Classical Cabaret' at the Hippodrome Theatre in London where he brought together rising stars from the worlds of dance, opera and classical music including mezzo-soprano Justina Gringyte.
On October 29, 2014, at the invitation of President Juan Santos, he made a brief visit to Colombia where he performed 'The Dying Swan' at the Presidential Palace for the President, HRH Prince Charles and HRH Duchess of Cornwall during their State Dinner.
In September 2015 he directed and choreographed 'Fernando Montano and Friends' at the Britten Theatre in London, to raise funds for 'Children Change Colombia' and 'Playing For Change Foundation'. Performers included Elena Gurjidze and Dorothea Herbert and costumes were provided by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Edward Lidster and Elizabeth Emanuel.
In December 2015 he read the BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal on behalf of Children Change Colombia.
In 2016 he organised and performed in Charity events for 'Children Change Colombia' whilst in Colombia.
In August 2016 he performed a charity show in Jamaica at Hanover Grange. It was hosted by Theresa Roberts with all proceeds going to the MoBay City Run education projects, the University of the West Indies Western Jamaica Campus Ambassadorial Corps Fund and the Glenhope Place of Safety a Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ)-aided project.
In October 2018 he was made a Patron of The Amy Winehouse Foundation and performed at their annual fundraising gala in London.
On July 18, 2019, he staged 'Fernando Montano and Friends - Dance for the Sea' at the Susie Sainsbury Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society charity. Performers included Oliver Tompsett, Justina Gringyte and Reinis Zarins and the event was hosted by Siân Lloyd with production design by Edward Lidster.
In 2020 Montano was made an ambassador of and presented two podcasts for the Marine Conservation Society called Oceancast. Guests included Deborah Meaden, Colin Jackson, Alexandra Dariescu, Simon Reeve, Susie Rodgers, and Cyrus Todiwala.
In 2009 he received a Citation of Honor (New York) in recognition of his outstanding work in the arts
In both 2013 and 2014 he was voted Personality of the Year at the prestigious LUKAS Awards.
In 2014 he was named one of the top 100 most notable Colombians and was invited by the country's President Santos to Bogota to receive the award.
In 2019 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts by The University of Bath.
- 2014 Narcissus
- 2015 Fragmentos de Amor
- 2016 Dancing For Peace - BBC TV
On March 15th 2019 his autobiography, Una Buena Ventura, was published in Spanish by Penguin Random House
- "Meet the Colombian 'Billy Elliot'". BBC News.