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Local talent tapped for dance of a lifetime

By Jennette Barnes
Globe Correspondent / November 13, 2011

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Four teenage boys - three from Brockton and one from Canton - are getting ready to experience something most dancers only dream about: national television exposure on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.’’

The boys will dance live on the show on Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for ABC, as part of a segment about male dancers.

A camera crew prerecorded interviews and dance footage of the boys in Massachusetts, and they are flying to Los Angeles to make their live appearance. Their teacher, Rennie Gold, said he expects the boys to dance both as a group and paired with female dancers from the show.

Making the trip are twins David and Jacob Guzman of Brockton, Kyle Scanlan of Brockton, and Matthew Gilmore of Canton. All are public high school students in their respective communities.

The boys were together when they heard the news, in a car with one of their moms returning from a dance event in Providence. She pulled over and put their teacher on speakerphone, 16-year-old Jacob Guzman said.

“We all just went psycho,’’ he said. “We were so pumped. It was awesome.’’

Gold said the show took notice of the boys last year after they appeared in a video on DanceLifeTV.com. ABC called him in September last year, but talk of a 2010 appearance never came to fruition. This year, Gold sent “Dancing’’ producers a video of the boys dancing in “Accept Me,’’ a piece his studio produced that deals with bullying, including the teasing and negative attitudes sometimes faced by boys who dance.

More than 60 children and teens from Brockton, Canton, Plympton, Randolph, and other communities south of Boston danced in the first performance of “Accept Me’’ in April at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School. Since then, the show has been performed in a handful of other venues, including Oliver Ames High School in Easton.

After receiving the video, “Dancing With the Stars’’ called again this fall, and Gold was thrilled to tell four of his students they would be going to Los Angeles.

“I was initially shocked,’’ said Gilmore, who turned 15 yesterday. “I still can’t believe it right now. I don’t think I’ll believe it until I’m actually dancing on that stage Tuesday night.’’

He said his friends are planning viewing parties and have their TiVos and DVRs set to record the show.

Scanlan, 17, said he was ecstatic at the news. “I was grateful for the opportunity and really excited,’’ he said. “I was happy that I am making my parents proud, and my family was really excited. It was a lot of good feelings.’’

Not every male dancer can count on the support of people around him, and the boys’ interviews on “Dancing With the Stars’’ will address that, they said.

David Guzman said he was not seriously bullied as a child but sometimes felt sad when friends made fun of him for dancing. When he entered a new school, he didn’t want to tell anyone he danced, but eventually word got out.

“Some kids I thought I was really close to said, ‘You do a girl sport,’ and ‘You run around in tutus,’ ’’ partly because they had no idea what dance was really like, he said. The other boys had similar experiences.

Like the other boys headed for California, Guzman said his parents are very supportive. His mother makes costumes, and both of his parents attend their sons’ performances whenever they can.

“Because I love to dance, they love the idea of me dancing,’’ he said, “because they love the idea of me doing what I love to do.’’

All of the boys hope to continue dancing, either in college or professionally. Scanlan, the oldest, is looking at colleges where he can study musical theater, acting, and computer science.

None of them have much experience with ballroom dance - the staple of “Dancing With the Stars.’’ They’re more familiar with contemporary ballet, jazz, modern, tap, and a bit of hip-hop.

For the show, Gold said he will choreograph something for the boys, and he’s been told that Lacey Schwimmer, a professional dancer who was paired with Chaz Bono until they were eliminated recently from the competition, will choreograph a dance that pairs the boys with female dancers.

Kenny Wormald, who plays the male lead in the recent “Footloose’’ remake, and who grew up in Stoughton and was another student of Gold’s, is scheduled to be interviewed as well, according to Gold.

The dance teacher can’t wait to see his students in the national spotlight, not just because of what it means for their success, but because the show brings to millions of viewers the message that men who dance professionally - whether in films, dance companies, or musical theater - started as boy dancers, teased by peers and outnumbered by girls, and that they deserve to be embraced for doing what they love.

Jennette Barnes can be reached at jennettebarnes@yahoo.com.