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By Geralda Miller
The Reno Gazette-Journal
January 4, 2013

[Reno, Nevada, USA] – Logan Strand saw the movie “Happy Feet” and all he wanted after that was to be able to move his feet like Mumble. “Something about that little penguin dancing and being himself kind of moved me,” the 11-year-old said. “They had a little thing where the guy who did the tapping for ‘Happy Feet’ showed you the basic moves and the basic keys of tapping. And I just said to my mom, ‘Mom, I want to do that. I want to do that.’”

His mother, Diane Strand, grew up dancing and performed in MGM Grand’s “Hello Hollywood, Hello,” so she knew to contact Kia Crader, owner and dance teacher at Fascinating Rhythm School of Performing Arts in south Reno, who also performed in the casino production.

Logan was 5 when he put on his first pair of tap shoes in Crader’s boys-only tap class. He’s been dancing ever since. He’s one of 16 children currently performing in the Eldorado Showroom’s holiday production of “Aladdin.”

Although for most of the local children, performing in the Eldorado Showroom might be considered major league, it isn’t for Logan. He’s acted in commercials, had a part in a major film for Paramount Studios, auditioned on Broadway and danced in the Christmas show with the Rockettes in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

“Logan was born for the stage,” Crader said. “He is a funny, intelligent and quirky kid who takes to the stage like a fish to water. He is truly in his element when he is performing.”

Tap dance kid

It started with tap classes every Thursday. Luckily, Crader offered a boys-only class because Logan didn’t want to dance with girls.

“Then all the boys from my boys tap class quit, eventually,” he said. “Then Miss Kia brought me into the girls tap class. I was there with these older girls. From then on, I was only in a few classes where I was with other boys and the rest of the time girls, girls, girls everywhere.”

But tap wasn’t enough. He wanted to take hip-hop dance, jazz and even acting classes. His mom insisted that he first learn ballet. “I’m not going to spend my money on hip-hop and jazz because ballet is the foundation of all dance,” she said. “I said, ‘If you really want to seriously be a dancer, you have to take ballet. I’m just telling you this from a dancer’s perspective.’”

Logan associated ballet with pink tutus, and Strand had to explain that the girls wear the tutus, not the boys. “So he tried it, ended up really liking it and being fairly good at it,” she said.

Logan is passionate about performing, to the point that just to talk about it brings him to tears. “Dancing and acting and just performing, it’s not just something I do, it’s part of my life,” he said. “It’s my life. It’s what I do. Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s just a thing you do. It’s no big deal. You’ll probably forget about it.’ I don’t want to forget about it. And when I do dance or perform, it makes feel like I’m my true self. I feel like I know myself and this is what I’m happy doing.”

Paramount beginnings

Not only did Logan want to dance, he wanted to act. “I kept thinking, the more he tried it, that he would find out it was real work,” Strand said. “Kids see this and they think oh, it’s fun and glamorous. I said, ‘You don’t understand that it’s real work, so I want you to experience what it really is.’” So, mom and her youngest son traveled to Los Angeles to audition at a few agencies. By the end of the trip, he had signed an agent.

Next, the 7-year-old got called to his first audition at Paramount Studios, where he ended up getting hired to play actor Eric Bana’s younger self in the film “Star Trek.” He even shaved his head for the part.

“It ended up after many trips to L.A., hours of him working on set, that they cut the entire scene,” she said. “But it’s in the DVD in the bonus features. And you see J.J. Abrams working with Logan and the boys as they put them in this basement. They had to work in the mud, in the cold.”

But Logan got paid. Now, the professional child actor has a Coogan trust account. “He’s got a nice little nest egg for when he’s an adult,” Strand said. “How many kids can say that? When he was working at Radio City for 20 minutes on stage, he was making more than I ever have as an adult.”

While in Los Angeles, Logan joined more than 300 youths at the Debbie Reynolds Studio to audition. “He went in to audition, and I’m looking at all these kids and saying, ‘There’s no way,’” his mom said. “And he was way taller than all the other kids.”

Logan ended up being fourth on the list and the third child didn’t want the job. “I remember just crying, probably lost 2 pounds from just crying that day because I was so happy,” he said. “I was not their first choice but that’s fine with me. Just being one of their choices is great. I went there and just being in that theater, it was amazing.”

Diane Strand and her son Logan,11,  who began dancing when he was 5 (Photo by Liz Margerum} 2013He worked for four months in Radio City Music Hall, dancing with 70 Rockettes.

Mom couldn’t help but be ecstatic. “I was in heaven,” she said. “I have to admit. As a dancer, that was the ultimate. I was so proud. I was walking two feet off of the sidewalk. Yes, maybe that one time I was living a fantasy through him. But he did that all on his own. I was just along for the ride.”

And what a ride it was.

While in New York, Logan signed with Shirley Grant Management, which is one of the top talent firms for youth. He also auditioned for the Broadway musical “Billy Elliot.” He was placed in a training camp for the character Michael, but the show got canceled in January.

Returning to Reno wasn’t easy. “I don’t know what it was, but emotionally he struggled, coming back and reconnecting with the kids here,” Strand said. “He was really struggling with the bullying and the sense of not knowing what to do.”

Back to reality

Logan said it was difficult at Roy Gomm Elementary School until he was placed in a school program. “It’s been hard,” he said, crying. “There always are those kids who are bullies. I have been called names, like ‘ballerina boy’ and other things. But thankfully, my parents, my family, my friends have always been there to support me through those things.”

Strand also made a big decision for her son.

“I decided it was time to stop, take him off of the books in Los Angeles, take him off the books in New York and just let him have at least a year of trying to stay here, be a kid,” she said. “If there are performance opportunities here he can do, good, fine. But it was becoming too much pressure.”

Although he has plenty of time to make up his mind, right now, Logan is torn about his future. He loves to dance, but he also loves reptiles and thinks it would be fun to be a herpetologist.

“I think as I get older there’s going to be a huge conflict between those two,” he said. “Someday, I’m going to have to decide. I don’t know right now. I’m just shunning that idea. One day, I don’t know. I’ll be whoever I’ll be.”

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