Born in Medellin, Colombia, Ricardo Bustamante began his dance training at the age of eight, at the Academia de Ballet de Medellin. After dancing a diverse repertory as a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, he joined American Ballet Theatre in 1985, at the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov. While performing with ABT over the next nine years Bustamante quickly moved through the ranks to become principal dancer. He had the privilege to work directly with many important choreographers including Sir Kenneth McMillan, Antony Tudor, Agnes DeMille, Twyla Tharp, Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, Carole Armitage, and Natalia Makarova. In addition he was a frequent international guest artist, toured twice with “Rudolf Nureyev and Friends” and also starred in two productions that aired on PBS’ Dance in America series.
In 1994, he joined the SF Ballet School faculty, where he choreographed a number of works for the School including Baroque Divertissement, which was performed by both the School and students from Le Jeune Ballet de France. Beginning in 1998, Bustamante successfully led Argentina’s famous Ballet Teatro Colón, as artistic director. From 2000–03, Bustamante directed and choreographed for the Ballet de Santiago in Chile, creating his own version of The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire to popular acclaim. In 2004, he joined SF Ballet as a ballet master and principal character dancer. In February 2009, along with Rachel Beaujean of Het National Ballet, Bustamante set his own production of Giselle in Amsterdam at Het National Ballet. Later that year, in addition to his roles with SF Ballet as ballet master and principal character dancer, he was named assistant to the artistic director.