Artist Profile: Cutting Loose With Ray del Barrio
Words: Matt Innes
When it comes to dancing in movies, Ray del Barrio has some of the most famous feet in show business.
You may think you don’t know who Ray del Barrio is, but chances are you’ve seen his fancy footwork. In fact, Ray’s very first film gig was dancing in one of the classic cult films of the 1980s.
“I was 17 years old and I got a call, they said to bring a bunch of shoes and go to this place,” Ray recounts.
“Along with a bunch of other dancers, we were all friends, but I’m about seven pairs of the dancing shoes in the opening titles of ‘Footloose’. Not only that, I’m the number eight bowling shoes dancing when the title comes across, and then I’m the white boots when [writer] Dean Pitchford’s name comes across.
“I got paid 80 bucks. I said, ‘this is good, I got my feet in a movie now I gotta get the rest of my body in a movie,” Ray laughs. “Talk about a foot in the door, and nobody knew that would be such a cult classic.”
Since that first break, Ray’s feet have danced alongside some of the world’s biggest stars and in some truly iconic films. He toured as a dancer with Whitney Houston in 1988 and landed a series of film roles, including playing one of the Merry Men in Mel Brooks’ 1994 film ‘Robin Hood: Men In Tights’.
“First and foremost, I remember it like it was yesterday,” Ray says.
“I was driving through the city. My agent said, ‘can you get over to this studio now’ and I was like, ‘absolutely’. They said ‘the project is Mel brooks, it’s this new film’.
“The next thing I knew I was driving on the lot, I got in, I said hello to the choreographer, we met Mr Brooks, we were in rehearsal, we put together the number, we had to learn the choreo[graphy] but we also had to learn the lyrics because we were lip-synching and singing. I mean, it was an amazing few days, literally a few days, it was like a gig.”
As a dancer and choreographer, Ray has lent his incredible talent and expertise to countless musical and theatrical productions around the world. He also works with institutions such as the prestigious American Music & Dramatic Arts Academy [AMDA] as a teacher-director training and developing dancers who go on to perform in national touring productions.
From cult film classics and global touring to raising the next batch of top-tier performers, Ray del Barrio has devoted his life to the art of dance and movement, in the process building a formidable reputation among his peers, colleagues and fans.
For his next project, Ray has interests in working with MADCAP Global Entertainment in Australia to develop a US production of ‘Bugle Boys – A Salute To The Andrews Sisters’, the UK run of which was awarded as one of the Top Ten shows at Edinburgh Fringe in 2018.
“It’s a great idea,” Ray says about a possible US production of ‘Bugle Boys’, a drag comedy cabaret based on the music and legacy of The Andrews Sisters.
“America has finally fully caught on to what pantomime and camp is,” he continues.
“We’ve had camp but pantomime is an innately British, and probably Australian, form of theatre. We can never have too much camp.”
The Andrews Sisters were arguably the original all-girl group and are best-known for their 1941 hit ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’. During World War II, the close harmonies of LaVerne, Maxene and Patty provided a valuable source of entertainment and morale for American troops and the folks back home alike.
“The music [of The Andrews Sisters] is epic and the vocals and harmonies are epic,” Ray states.
“They represented hope and represented unity and, of course, entertainment, so I love that all of those elements combined are with some really good camp comedy. It’s a great idea and I love it. I think that it would do very well.”