By Marvin Charles (IOL)
When he was 19, dancer Chester Martinez wrote a list of what he wanted to achieve by the time he turned 25. Now, at 21, he has already checked off most of the things on that list.
The self-taught artist from Saldanha Bay has been making waves for all the right reasons in the Mother City.
The performer has worked alongside many noteworthy celebrities and locals like US singer Cassie and local singer Jimmy Nevis.
But his biggest break came last year when he starred as one of the dancers in the Hollywood film, Honey 3, which was shot in Cape Town.
Martinez started dancing at the age of 13. He learnt to dance by watching popular TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.
“When I was young, it was really just fun and games, and for me it was not really something.”
“It came naturally, the rhythm, until I became older and decided I really have a passion for this,” he said.
After joining the Ackermans Dance Academy for disadvantaged children who did not have access to dance training, he took part in a number of dance competitions.
“It just motivated me. It made me realise that I must be doing something right,” he said.
Appearing in a Hollywood movie was a “dream come true” because he had grown up watching the Honey franchise.
He was also cast as a dancer in the movie A Cinderella Story.
“I couldn’t believe how fast everything was happening for me. It went from booking Honey to being in Cinderella,” he said.
Martinez has spent the last six months working alongside US singer FKA Twigs overseas.
“I could never have imagined that FKA Twigs would call me and say ‘Listen, I want to book you for my tour and fly you out to London.’”
He has since worked with pop stars Jennifer Lopez and Cassie.
It is a significant achievement, coming from the disadvantaged background he grew up in.
His parents divorced when he was young, and his mother suffered from bipolar disorder.
“I was sort of left alone for most of my childhood, I became very independent.”
“It made me ask who I was.”
“I was searching for myself,” he said.