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G FORCE | HENOCH SPINOLA

A prince of a dancer

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFFHenoch Spinola plays Cavalier in ''The Nutcracker'' at Spingold Theater. PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFFHenoch Spinola plays Cavalier in ''The Nutcracker'' at Spingold Theater. (PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF)
By Megan Tench
Globe Staff / December 5, 2008
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At the age of 20, Henoch Spinola landed the role of the Cavalier, the Nutcracker Prince, in José Mateo Ballet Theatre's "The Nutcracker." Spinola, who is of Cape Verdean descent and graduated from Lexington High School in 2006, has been dancing since the age of 10. He endured years of teasing for being a ballet dancer, only to emerge in his strongest role yet. Here's what he has to say:

Q. How excited are you about playing the Cavalier role?

A. I actually am very excited. I was shocked that I was cast in the role. . . . I didn't think my technique was up to par. So, it's something new for me to work on. Cavalier and Sugar Plum are the king and queen of the land of sweets in the "Nutcracker" story. I just come on and present all the sweets of this different land to Clara, and at the end Cavalier and the Sugar Plum have a grand dance for two.

Q. What inspired you to become a dancer?

A. My mother was and is my inspiration. My mom was the one who introduced me to José Mateo when I was about 10 or 11. My mother was dancing at the time as well, except she was doing West African dance. She's been supporting me completely and has been my driving force.

Q. What was that like for you as a 10-year old?

A. Initially I wasn't too happy about it because I was made fun of at school for doing ballet. . . . People assumed I was a feminine person because of it and it was something to tease me about. It got pretty bad. It was difficult juggling homework and dance. It was a nuisance to go to school and hear questions like, "Oh, you wear tights," or "Isn't that for girls?" Things like that.

Q. Now that you are 20, do you see ballet differently? What has it done for you?

A. It has helped me with discipline in all areas. When I was in school I had to go to school and get out at 3 and practice three hours a day, and the weekends were 10 hours. As a professional dancer, I am dancing 9 to 5 and practice a lot. I always felt like I could do more because of dance.

MEGAN TENCH

JOS� MATEO BALLET THEATRE Presents "The Nutcracker" at Spingold Theater at Brandeis University, today through Dec. 14, tickets $15-$50 at 781-736-3400; and at Duxbury Performing Arts Center, Dec. 19-21, tickets $15-$50 at 617-354-7467. www.ballettheater.org

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