The Tattooed Prince in Tights 1

Meet Principal Dancer Richard Porter

If you catch Richard Porter at the pub, you probably wouldn’t guess he’s a principal dancer with the Sacramento Ballet. Sporting tattoos on his arms and piercings in his ears, the 31-year-old Australian looks more like he belongs drumming in a rock band than spinning pirouettes in second position.

“I like to be different,” he says in an Aussie accent while sipping on a beer. Plus, he does actually drum.

As a sports-loving surfer dude growing up in Melbourne, Porter didn’t initially envision himself as a ballerino. He had a different goal in mind: to dance in music videos. So he enrolled in hip-hop, tap and jazz. Ballet was suggested as a way to build the core strength needed to seriously pursue dance.

As a young teenager, Porter was hesitant to pull on the tights — what would his football mates think?

He quickly got over the embarrassment and “fell in love with ballet, especially the partnering.”

With ballet as the new dream, he trained at Dance World 301 and the Australian Ballet and later joined the West Australian Ballet and Melbourne Ballet Company. Then he was ready to travel the world. He sent audition tapes to several California companies, thinking the state was all beach and surf.

Within a week, he was on a plane to dance under the direction of the Sacramento Ballet’s husband-and-wife duo of Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, whom he praises as “second to none.”

In his eight years with company, Porter has danced some of the most iconic roles: Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, and the Prince in Cinderella. Porter cites the classics as his favorites. “There’s nothing like dancing for three hours as Romeo and then the curtain comes up and you see 3,000 people standing and crying.”

He also speaks with enthusiasm about the contemporary performances in smaller venues, such as the Beer and Ballet series, where the dancers choreograph themselves to modern music. The more intimate setting allows the audience to get a better appreciation for what the dancers do. “You can see all our muscles working, how hard we’re breathing. It’s gritty. It’s hard work.”

When he’s not working hard on stage, Porter stays busy as a new dad. He and his wife, retired Sac ballet dancer Amanda Peet, welcomed baby Annabelle in 2015. Despite the lack of surf, the family plans to stay in the capital city. “This is home for me.”