Ryan Ragsdale said teacher Janice Monsanto made his dance foundation strong.
When Ryan Ragsdale first started dancing in middle school, he didn’t enjoy it. All he wanted to do was hip-hop, but he had to learn the fundamentals of jazz, ballet and tap, too. Now, at age 24, he’s thankful his family and teachers pushed him to continue dancing.
The 2012 Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate just finished his debut on NBC’s World of Dance season two, with a dance team called the Funkywunks.
He credits his success to what he learned in Janice Monsanto’s class at FPC.
“Because [Monsanto] was so welcoming, I kind of just started to have a passion for it as the years went by,” Ragsdale said. “I always selected it as an elective each year and joined the dance team. I just started to fall in love with dancing and strengthening my craft.”
Monsanto said she was excited to have Ragsdale in her class and dance club for four years, because male dancers in high school are often afraid to learn different styles due to stigmas.
“It was really nice we had someone with courage and the interest in it, and it’s wonderful to see him pursuing it now,” she said. “We’re so proud him.”
Monsanto, or Monty as students call her, remembers Ragsdale being naturally gifted with rhythm when he stepped foot into her class as a freshman.
“That just was something that didn’t have to be taught to him,” she said about his instinct ability. “But, we did have him learn the other styles so he could get his technique and foundation. So, he was at the ballet barre with everyone else and learning the modern dance technique. Sometimes, he was a little resistant to that because it was something unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first, but he grew to appreciate and respect it.”
Ragsdale visited FPC on Friday, Aug. 31 to visit Monsanto and encourage students to pursue dancing after school, if that’s their dream like it is his.
“It’s really come full circle for him, and I love that he’s giving us some of his time to explain that to the younger generation,” Monsanto said.
She also added she often has Bulldog alumni come back to visit or even to choreograph dances for school showcases.
“I think that’s what keeps me going and has given me some longevity,” Monsanto said. “I’ve been teaching in the public schools for 29 years now, and some times and some days are really tough and demanding, and I think what keeps me going and feeds the passion is that those who are pursuing dance or have a love for it will come back and show their appreciation, so it’s wonderful and I feel very best.”
Ragsdale said he couldn’t have gotten to where he is now it without Monsanto and his current dance team's manager and choreographer, Julie Johnson, who helped him get the Funkywunks on World of Dance.
To see Ragsdale dance in former episodes of World of Dance season two, visit https://www.nbc.com/world-of-dance. What’s Ragsdale’s next step? Stay tuned on Instagram by following @ryanragsdale12.