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By Robert Michaelson
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript


BENNINGTON — A young Bennington boy has found solid footing in ballet and will be putting his skills to the test when he performs in Boston Ballet’s 2010 production of Mikko Nissinen’s version of “The Nutcracker” at The Boston Opera House later this month.

“I’m really excited, mostly just dancing in front of people, there will be a lot of people,” said 13-year-old Mac Gershfield in an interview on Sunday.

All the children performing in “The Nutcracker,” the famous ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, are students of Boston Ballet School, which includes 250 other young dancers from across New England. There are three full casts preparing for the 40 performances scheduled to run from Nov. 26 to Dec.31.

Gershfield began his ballet training two years ago with former Boston Ballet soloist Reagan Messer at Moco Arts Dance Center in Keene. He joined the Boston Ballet two months ago after spending six weeks at a ballet-intensive program at Seiskaya Ballet in St. James, N.Y,. on Long Island.

“I like the base of all the movements,” said Gershfield about his love for ballet. “I like how you have a solid base and you do the movements with that base.”

The young dancer will be doing a lot of those movements when he plays the role of Fritz for six performances, before moving to the role of a Party Boy for the remaining seven. He said he is excited for the first set of performances because Fritz is a “standout role” in the production. Fritz is the brother of Clara, and ends up breaking the treasured nutcracker as he tries to wrest it from his sister’s grasp.

Gershfield is homeschooled and the middle child among six other siblings in his family, which includes an older brother who has also trained as a ballet dancer. His mother, Hazel Gershfield, is proud to see her son make the cut for the performance.

“It is a big privilege,” she said on Sunday. “but he does it because of the fun and because he loves it.”

Mac is one of the few boys in his group and especially enjoys dancing with a partner. The training can be a bit rough for a young dancer, especially working on reaching the point where he begins to catch the female dancers.

“That was painful, trying to catch girls in mid-air,” he said of watching his brother in similar training.

“I never thought of it before, the energy that is there. You have to be so strong to pick these girls up,” his mother added.

The ballet dancer trains most of the week, which he said is important to keep from getting hurt while dancing. The most challenging part is dealing with injuries,” he said. “I’ve been getting a strain on the inside of my shin.”

He makes sure to warm up before each class and takes it easy on the jumping to help his injury heal before the show.

The ballet dancer said he has been playing the drums for about a year, which he says helps him find his rhythm while he is practicing his ballet. He also enjoys other styles of dance including modern, tap, jazz and hip-hop.

When asked about whom he looks up to in ballet, Gershfield immediately responded with the famous Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov because he is “very relaxed and flexible.”

He is looking to keep on improving his skills in order to better immerse himself in dance and turn it into a full-time career. “I feel like the better technique, the more fun you can have,” he said. “You feel cleaner and can move around more efficiently.”

Boston Ballet School is the largest ballet school in North America and has had students help celebrate the holiday season with “The Nutcracker” for more than 43 years.



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