He does not let himself be dejected by adversity and decides to take advantage of his talents and abilities to keep his community healthy

Gary Ferrer, a severe meningitis left him virtually blind and deaf, but that has not prevented him from fulfilling his own dream of creating a folk dance group in San Bernardino composed of Hispanic boys and girls. For this season of celebration of the dead, Gary's ballet has a series of presentations throughout southern California in which many of the children will dance with their faces made up like catrinas.

Gary recovered from meningitis that in 2016 almost killed him at 27, but he lost his sight a week after being hospitalized and although he has been recovering, his vision three years after his illness is 20%.

"My eyesight is very blurred. I see many shadows. It is nothing that can be solved with lenses. He has declared me legally blind. We hope that over time I can improve", He says.

In his native Zacatecas, Mexico, Gary Ferrer danced folk dances. (Photo provided)

Gary came to the United States from Zacatecas, Mexico at 16 years old. He is currently 31 years old.

“Before I got sick from meningitis, I used to take a picture of fashion events and teach fitness classes like Zumba,” he recalls.

When he left the hospital where he spent more than 40 days because of meningitis, he suffered severe depression and anguish.

“I didn't look at anything. I could not exercise photography. So I looked for ways to do something. I didn't want to stay home with depression, ”he says.

In front of his home in San Bernardino, there is a church and he offered to teach Zumba classes for free. “Once they were going to organize an inn, I commented that it would be nice to do some dancing. But who will teach them, they asked. ‘I know how to dance folk, I told them; and I grabbed four girls and invented two choreographies, ”he recalls.

Gary Ferrer with one of his students in the Folkloric Ballet that bears his name. (photo provided)

When the Christmas celebrations passed, they asked him if he was not going to continue with the dance. “I thought, why not take that opportunity. I had a hunch telling me that I could. Although I was warned that working with children was not easy. But they are very smart, ”he says.

The dance came at a time in his life that needed a motivation and left behind his loss. “With the folk dance, I felt very useful and made something beautiful resurface in me. It's been three years since we're with the Gary Ferrer Folkloric Ballet, ”he says proudly.

The first week of November, Gary will turn three years of having founded his ballet.

“The acceptance was very good. I was very surprised at the answer because I didn't plan anything. I just wanted to do something that would help me and others; and feel useful People were amazed that I taught children even with my limitations in vision, ”he says.

For Gary, dancing is a therapy. “I don't think about anything else when I'm teaching the choreographies and dancing with the children. I like to live with them. I've always been a person who likes to dance a lot, ”he says.

Gary Ferrer has surprised the San Bernardino community because despite his limitations to see and hear, he has succeeded with his folkloric ballet. (Photo provided)

Gary says his classes are Spanish for minors to practice and not lose the language of their parents and grandparents.

Recognize that teaching choreography when you have limited vision presents its challenges.

“It's hard to assemble everything because I don't see the girls' face, and I rely on the shadows. It's as if you see through a blurry glass, ”he explains.

To help himself, Gary has had the walls of his ballroom painted gray. "That helps me a lot to identify when the skirts move and if they are doing the right thing," he says.

Gary Ferrer's ballet is made up of 30 girls and boys from three and a half years to thirteen.

“My concept of Mexican folklore is modern. That's why I use many songs that are happy like Son de la Negra and Viva Veracruz. For my choreographies, I use music sung by Lila Downs, Pepe Aguilar, Luis Miguel, Mariachi Vargas and Mariachi Sol, ”he says.

The costumes and even the accessories are designed by the dancer and choreographer. "They are made to my liking and expressly for us," he explains.

To Gary, meningitis left him deaf on the left side. “When they talk to me about that side I don't listen. And there is a connection between sight and hearing and that is another challenge when teaching dance, ”he says.

Gary Ferrer found in Hispanic dance teaching Hispanic children. (photo provided).

Despite the challenges he faces every day, he says he feels very happy.

"They gave me eleven days to live when meningitis hit me and here I am. I live happy. I have learned to enjoy my life. I really like what I do and every day, I accept them as a challenge", He says.

“There are many people like me who cannot overcome what happened to them. There are others who complain about economic things when the most important thing we have is health, ”he explains.

This young Hispanic has received many awards for putting his artistic talent at the service of low-income children. Last year, In 2018 he was recognized as an active hero by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors for promoting physical health and keeping the community healthy.

Gary shows up with his Day of the Dead show this Saturday, October 26 at the Placita Olvera at 2 in the afternoon; on October 27 at 11:30 and 12:30 in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Covina; on November 2, Day of the Dead in downtown Riverside; and on November 3 in the arena of Perris, California.

The Gary Ferrer Folkloric Ballet has performed at the Orange County County Fair; NASCAR and the Riverside Festival of Lights in which they will participate again on December 6 at 6 p.m.


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