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Inside Toronto
December 12. 2010


The best part about being a mouse in The Nutcracker is hiding under a mattress and then emerging to sniff some cheese, eight-year-old Michael Moreno says.

The Grade 3 student at York’s Portage Trail Junior Community School will be one of more than 250 students from the National Ballet School and high schools in the Toronto area participating in the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker running from Dec. 11 to Jan. 2 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Michael, who will appear in five performances on Dec. 11, 16, 21, 24 and 28, is excited about appearing in the production. “It’s fun because we get to go (hide) in beds…and you get to do different stuff,” he said.

He has spent half his life in dance, an activity he clearly enjoys. “Actually, I am (good). I do acro, I do hip hop, I do ballet, I do tap. (I like it) ’cause it is fun and I get to do different dances. You don’t always do the same,” he said. “It makes me feel happy because we get to know different moves.”

While some of his friends have suggested he give up dance for athletic pursuits like hockey, Michael knows he’s in the right activity. “My friends, they think I should go in one of this sports thing, but I would rather do dancing because dancing is good for you. It’s good exercise,” he said.

When Michael was four, his mother, Robyn Moreno, used to take him to see his older sister perform at a dance studio. After he expressed an interest in joining, she signed him up for dance classes run through the city at Fairbank Community Centre.

He loved it so much, his mom soon signed him up at his sister’s dance studio, where he has taken classes in several different techniques such as ballet and jazz. Last year, he began competing in hip hop and tap.

When his mother suggested auditioning for the Canada’s National Ballet School, Michael leapt at the chance. He was accepted into the junior boys B program, which he began in September.

Over the next several weeks, an official assessed whether any of the children would be able to perform in The Nutcracker. On Oct. 22, Michael learned he had been selected and has been rehearsing ever since.

Just because Michael is kept busy with school, dance classes and rehearsing, it doesn’t mean he’s neglecting his future. He is contemplating a career as a dancer, a police officer, a firefighter or a dad.

When asked if he couldn’t combine being a father with one of his other job prospects, Michael figured he’d have his hands full taking his two kids to school and making them lunch and dinner and doing laundry and other stuff to handle a career at the same time.

Michael has some advice for anyone thinking of taking up dancing, especially those who may be good enough to perform in The Nutcracker. “I am a good dancer and they should try out too for The Nutcracker because maybe they will find out for themselves (how much fun it is),” he said.


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