Meet Darrion Gallegos, Ariana Grande’s Favorite Dancer

By Ernesto Macias

Photographed by Jonathan Ivan

Styled by Jonathan Ivan

July 9, 2021

For the dancer and choreographer Darrion Gallegos, life has been a literal ball. From entwining himself around Ariana Grande’s legs,to strutting the runway next to Rosalía in Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 2, the 28-year-old’s dynamism has carried him to bigger and bigger stages with each passing year.

The Arizona native, now living in Los Angeles, has choreographed, danced, and appeared in music videos for basically every pop diva out there—Gwen Stefani,  Taylor SwiftNicki Minaj, Camilla Cabello, Fergie, Haley Kiyoko, and, of course his close friend Ariana Grande (whom he lovingly calls “Ari). Gallegos first appeared in the music video for “No Tears Left to Cry,” joined Grande onstage for her Sweetener Tour across the U.S. and Europe, as well as at live shows including the MTV Music Awards and Coachella. As he readies for his next big project, Gallegos and Interview got up close and personal about everything from go-to fast food orders to words of wisdom for fellow performers. Get to know the rising dance star below.

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On being discovered: When I was in high school, I used to attend a collective of different dance conventions. The summer of senior year I attended a particular convention where I won a yearlong scholarship to assist, and that is where I met so many choreographers, creatives, and my agent.

On his go-to fast food order: Fries and nuggets will be the death of me.

On working with Ariana Grande: My first video with Ari was “No Tears Left To Cry.” I would say that the Sweetener Tour and our Wango Tango performance have been some of the most memorable shows we’ve done.

On advice for young Latinx creatives: Without sounding like a sappy poetry book, from the heart I wanna say… Always have your back and forever root for yourself first. The most important thing is faith within yourself, and the belief that there are so many generations of beauty and work that got you to this point. Faith and care for yourself first will always give you the strength to give back to your community.

On his definition of Pride: Our community has born witness to great loss and rejection for so long. Pride is a time for us to look around to realize that we are strong. Honor the Black and brown trans women that have gotten us here and keep pushing forward. Pride is so important because of how we celebrate when not many can.

On dancing for Rihanna in the Savage x Fenty Vol 2 show: In 2018 I assisted the first show, so the experience for me was amazing because I have been wanting to be a part of this show since that moment and this was the first show where men were included. So, it was accomplishing a major goal. Also getting to strut alongside Rosalía was major!

On his first dance performance ever: It was in downtown Flagstaff for a First Friday Art Walk. I was so thrilled and was just living my life. Truly it is just a huge reminder of how far I have come.

On social media: I don’t take it too seriously. I have it tailored to the things I want to see and am open to exploring. I think there is something special about being able to connect with other artists from around the world that I may not have been able to connect with otherwise. And of course, sharing my work with everyone. The amount of reach we have makes for some amazing connections and possibilities. Honestly, it’s about perspective.

On Kali Uchis, Rosalia, and Virgil Abloh: There is a mix of artists, directors, and designers I have been wanting to really work with like Mura Masa, Nao, Laura Nycole, Casey Cadwallader, Tems, Ignasi Monreal, Kali Uchis, and Virgil Abloh.

On his next career goalEither to walk in a major fashion show, to see my face on a huge billboard, or solo direct my first live concert.

On his favorite Ariana Grande song(s): Yikes this is hard, I really have so many, but my top favs are “Everytime,” “Safety Net,” “Break Your Heart Right Back” and “Be Alright.”

On roses and sunflowers: Flowers for me are symbolic of growth, love, beauty, and patience. So it’s really just signs of what it takes to make something beautiful and as a creator, I continuously view my work with this in mind. The most incredible things, people, and success always come with time. Roses and sunflowers are my main ones.

On loving his hometown Flagstaff, Arizona: My favorite thing is the community and art it holds, growing up in a small town really does change the outlook you have on the world and how you continue to carry it out through your life. Small communities can really teach you about connecting and perspective.

———Production: Joshua AlthinaMakeup: Nicholas HerreraPhotographer Assistant: Carlos J. Rivera


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