Dante Gonzales Bentura: Using musical theater to break down stereotypes

Dante Gonzales Bentura: Using musical theater to break down stereotypes
Posted on 12/05/2019
Dante Gonzales Bentura: Using musical theater to break down stereotypes

By Kadey Heidrich
PISD Communications

Dante Gonzales Bentura was first bitten by the acting bug as a freshman when he was cast as a member of the chorus in “Anything Goes.”

By starting off with a small role, Bentura was able to learn from more experienced students and improve his technique.

Since that time, the Sam Rayburn High School senior has performed in several school programs and has been accepted into the Humphreys School of Musical Theater.

While attending Rayburn, Bentura said his instructors have challenged him,helped him learn the basics and grow creatively.

Bentura recently starred in the “Wizard of Oz” as the cowardly lion, describing the musical as a “cinematic masterpiece.” He relates to the character of the cowardly lion and the character’s struggle to be brave in tough situations. The lion has to be brave and sometimes struggles to do so, but he perseveres. Bentura has autism and like the character of the cowardly lion, he perseveres through any challenges he may face.

“I am always out-going and strive to be the best I can be. I want to break down stereotypes,” he says.

According to his theater teacher, Kevin George, Bentura’s willingness to learn and persevere through challenges is something that he brings to the classroom daily. When George first met Bentura, he noticed how hard Bentura worked when learning how to tap dance.

“I knew there was something special about him,” said George.

Bentura’s acceptance into the Academy at the Humphreys School of Musical Theater is proof that his hard work is paying off.

He first learned about the program by attending their open enrollment classes. After taking courses for a couple of years, he decided to apply to join the Academy. While the work may be difficult, it is worth it, he says. Through the program, he participates in advanced portions of musical theater such as ballet, tap and jazz.

Aside from his musical theater abilities, Bentura is known for having another special quality: kindness. 

“Dante is a kind soul. He will always, always encourage his peers and has an uplifting word for them whenever they need it. This is rare in a teenager,” said Kevin George.

When asked why he thinks kindness is important, Bentura says it is because you never know someone’s story, “It’s important to care about people and encourage them,” he says.

Throughout his life, Bentura has had an amazing group of individuals who have supported him, including his principal at Rayburn, Vanessa Reyes.

“I strongly believe without her all these years, along with other administrators, case managers, counselors, directors and teachers, I probably wouldn’t be telling this story of mine,” he says.

Bentura’s biggest inspiration is his mom. He appreciates that she has always encouraged him to be himself. Without her positive influence, Bentura isn’t sure where he would have landed.

“I truly believe that is why I am where I am today because of that positive attitude. She did everything she could and has always given me encouraging words,” said Bentura.

From his acceptance into the Humphreys School of Musical Theater to his role as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, Bentura has come quite a long way in four years of high school. After graduation, he plans to attend San Jacinto College to study theater and music. Once he has completed his Associate’s Degree, he is interested in earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theater from Sam Houston State University.