When the words "legendary dancer" comes to mind, names like Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and more come to mind. When you pair "legendary dancer" with "groundbreaking", "innovator" and "game-changing" all in one… what do you get? The answer is simple… Jose Xtravaganza.
Jose is literally one of the biggest game changers in the world of dance, as he continues to open doors for the younger generations over thirty years into his illustrious career. His resume is so chuck full of goodies in terms of what he's been able to accomplish, that's it's hard to really pinpoint what is the best thing he ever did. He is to the dance world what Cheesecake Factory is to the menu world… TOO MANY GOOD THINGS!
Let's break this down. In the 1980's, he joined the legendary House of Xtravaganza which was founded by Hector Xtravaganza, which was one of the most major (if not the most major) Vogue houses in the United States.
We first took notice of Jose, on an international level, in Jennie Livingston's groundbreaking documentary Paris is Burning, which chronicled the popular ball culture that was going on in the mid 1980's to early 1990's in NYC. It was in that film that you see Jose voguing in competition, something that would foreshadow his professional career only a couple of years later.
He happened to find himself at the same gay club with Madonna one night, where the "Like a Prayer" star took a liking to him which led to an incredibly successful professional relationship between the two. With his choreography and straight out brilliance, he was able to help her go right to the top of the charts all over the world with videos like "Vogue" and "Justify My Love", the former of which got him a nomination for best choreography at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards.
He was also a major player in her documentary film Madonna: Truth or Dare, which he went into major detail about over 25 years later with his appearance in Strike a Pose. He has taken the world of voguing all over the world since making it incredibly popular so many years ago, from New York City all the way to Tokyo, while ascending himself as the role of House Father in the House of Xtravaganza, where he led the house in all public activities, both in and out of the ballroom.
Basically, Jose is the shit and for any gay kid growing up when I did, we knew who he was and what his capabilities are then and to do this day. I was fortunate enough to meet Jose through his son Manuel Xtravaganza in the House of Xtravaganza one day back in December. The meeting was nothing short of spectacular, so I knew this writing this was going to be a fun one. Which it was. Take a look.
The first question really is, how did you stumble into this amazing world you created?
I don’t know, I think I was kind of put into it many years ago, and I was given a gift to share with the world, and with it I was able to make people feel so many different emotions.
You are primarily known for your legendary dance abilities. Growing up, was there anyone that you emulated or looked up do, or did you only draw inspiration within yourself?
I think you can not only draw inspiration from yourself because one would never evolve. Growing up I idolized Mikhail Baryshnikov, Nureyev, I wanted to be just as unique as they were. I wanted to develop that type of dancing ability but add my own character to it, my own style.
Do you find that the art of dance is lost upon the younger generations today?
Absolutely, I think now you sit in front of a computer and watch an edited dance video with all these special graphics or dance show and call it art. I’m from a school where you had to be present, you had to be there in a class, or at a performance to really know and understand. Nowadays you can take a dance class on the internet, learn from a YouTube video.
All the Madonna fans want to know how you found your way into each other's lives?
Well, I just met her at a club one night, she said she had heard about me through a friend that knew me from the New York club scene who had told her I was amazing.
Do you have a favorite memory with her, personal or professional?
I have many favorite memories both personal and professional, you can only imagine.
What is your all-time favorite number that you have choreographed and why?
Well of course there’s “Vogue”, but “Like a Virgin” I gotta say is the favorite because of all the controversy it caused. I remember thinking ‘What’s the big deal, they never seen guys in cone bras?’ Lol.
I would be stupid to not bring up Paris is Burning as well. Do you look back on that experience with fond memories, or is there anything you wish you could change?
Fond memories always. I wouldn’t be here without going there.
What advice would you give to younger people who want to go into the dance field in 2018?
Know the business side of things cause there always is one, and read everything.
You can check out what Jose is up to by liking his official Facebook page here.