Published June 11, 2012
Across the United States, in all fields of endeavor, Latinos are working to uphold their place in American society. Fox News Latino is proud to present "Our American Dream" – a series of snapshots and profiles of Latino success stories.
Martín and Facundo Lombard live how they dance, and dance how they live. There are no rules. There is no clear direction. They are guided by emotion.
It’s no wonder the 34-year-old Argentinean twins’ spontaneously decided at 21 years old - with just 400 dollars in their pockets - to move to the United States.
“It was a very great adventure for us,” Martín said.
Guided by the love for art – particularly dance – the Lombard Twins have come to define their own genre of art called Free Expression dancing, more of an art ideology than an actual style.
"It's just expressing your real feelings through moves, no style, no rules," Martín said. "You can use it in any art-form...it's seeing everything from an emotional point of view instead of technical."
After unexpected encounters with music legends James Brown and Michael Jackson, through dozens of crashed auditions around the country and an immigration nightmare – the twins have made it.
From movies like Step Up 3D and Men in Black 3, to appearances with Whitney Houston and George Michael, to modeling for Versace in Vogue, to directing and starring in their own short film called Free Expression – Martín and Facundo have come a long way from the slums of Argentina.
Life in Argentina
At just 10 years old, raised by their single mother, the brothers tried out jobs at amusement parks, fixing cars, and delivering wine to different grocery stores – anything they could do to help.
“We were a really low income family, and around 7 years old we discovered Michael Jackson on TV and we liked him and we started to copy his moves, ” Facundo said.
At just 13, the Lombard brothers dropped out of school, but only a month later they took matters into their own hands crashing an audition for a teen show in Argentina called “Rytmica de la Noche” or "Rhythm of the Night."
The Twins got the gig and after two years they had become teen idols.
“There were no dancers in Argentina back in 1991, and we were the only kids dancing there,” Martín said. “After that moment we decided to become dancers.”
But it still was not enough for them.
Martín and Facundo had been hit with the creative bug, as their desire to act, dance, and write grew. They hung out with friends at video stores where they would borrow films and tediously watch music legends like Janet and Michael Jackson, as well as, film director Robert Rodríguez.
Crossing Paths with Legends
Unsatisfied with the art scene in Argentina – the Lombard brothers moved to Spanish Harlem in New York City, at the age of 21, to begin their artistic lives as undocumented immigrants.
Martín and Facundo lived on 15 dollars a week in discretionary money, for a year.
“We just cooked stuff at home,” Martín said. “We would cook sandwiches of rice, ketchup, eggs…we would just create our own menu.”
The Twins would stuff their book-bags with food and just walk around the city – avoiding public transportation and taking whatever gigs were available including window washing at a dance studio.
“When you come from a country like Argentina, and you’ve got nothing,” he explained. “I was used to the lifestyle.”
But it was an improbable encounter at the age of 20 with James Brown at an intimate concert in Argentina that began to change things for good. Moved by the music, the brothers pleaded with Brown to let them dance with him on stage.
Brown agreed, and he loved every move. In awe of their talent – Brown dubbed the twins “The Soul Boys” making appearances at concerts at the singer’s request until he died in 2006.
But still – the twins point to their random encounter with Michael Jackson months after first arriving in the United States as a turning point for them.
Walking down the street from tap dancing class they ran into him on a corner street in midtown New York City. They followed him and spontaneously danced for the King of Pop - their idol.
"He rolled down the window and said 'You were very clean, you must practice a lot,'" the brothers described.
That moment was vindication for all of the hard work and risk they had taken in coming to the United States. The most important moment of their lives.
"It made me believe that if you have a dream and you go for it - it can actually happen," Martín explained.
A few months after that encounter - their lives changed - things started going their way.
But as the gigs in modeling, acting, and dancing picked up - the realities of living illegally in the United States became too much.
A planned business trip to London quickly turned into a nightmare when they were forced back to the United States due to their unclear immigration status. Eight months later, their request for an artist visa was denied and they had to return to Argentina where they would spend 5 years of their lives from 2001 to 2006.
"We thought our dreams were done," Facundo said, who was angry and devastated with the decision. "I was mad at myself, and my country (Argentina)."
The twins were inspired to write a play called "Dreamers" about their experience in New York City. They toured Europe showcasing their play in which they danced acted, played piano, and composed their own music.
At yet another chance encounter, this time, with the Ambassador from the United States in Argentina, Lino Gutiérrez, at a cocktail event they gave the ambassador a DVD copy of their work.
Inspired by the performance he saw on DVD, Gutiérrez, met with the brothers and helped them get back to the United States.
Martín and Facundo don't believe in luck - they believe their success was a direct result of doing what they love.
"Keep the dream alive, and go for it no matter how long it takes, it's the only way you will make it happen," they said finishing each others sentence while embracing one another. "I'm here - we are here - living our dreams everyday together."
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