Navajo/ Puerto Rican
Raised on the Navajo reservation outside of Phoenix, Arizona, Soto discovered his passion for ballet at age five.
In order to pursue a ballet career, he moved to New York City and lived on his own. By age eleven he was accepted at Manhattan’s School of American Ballet. George Balanchine, founder of New York City Ballet, personally selected sixteen year old Soto to join NYCB. He became principal dancer in 1985 – performing featured roles in more than 40 ballets.
He retired from dancing in 2005, at age 40. Since retirement he keeps busy by teaching at the School of American Ballet, and working with his husband, Luis Fuentes, at their catering company. In 2012 he choreographed a Pas de Deux which was performed at the Native American Arts Festival.
Soto often appeared on the PBS program Live from Lincoln Center and made several appearances on the children’s program Sesame Street. He has also been the celebrity guest-chef on the Food Network’s Talking Food, and a celebrity judge on Channel 13’s Masterchef.
In 1998, he received the First Americans in the Arts Trustee Award for Accomplishment in Ballet. Other awards include the Dance Magazine Award, Mae L. Wein Award for Distinguished Service, and Casita Maria Award for Hispanics. Friends In Deed also recognized him for his patronage of AIDS research.
In 2007, the documentary “Water Flowing Together” documenting Soto’s experiences premiered. In 2011, he released his memoir Every Step You Take.