A Prince of a Part

Features, 11-12, Nutcracker

by Michael Elkin
Jewish Exponent
December 14, 2011
 
At Lucas Tischler's Bar Mitzvah this February at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, will they be doing the Macarena or a pas de deux?
 
Why not both: The proudly Jewish Elkins Park youngster is high on Haftorah and ballet leaps these days and is used to being feted himself.
 
Now he'd like to fete others. The community mitzvah he plans to pursue as part of his rite of passage: a dance-a-thon to benefit Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia; it's also where his mother is supervisor of volunteer services.
 
It is, as he reasons, "a step up" from his part last year in the suite as Fritz, a less regal role.But before the Bar Mitzvah, there's raising the barre. And that's what the 13-year-old is doing now, playing the Prince in the current Pennsylvania Ballet Company production of "The Nutcracker" at the Academy of Music.
 
He owns the court, saving little Clara from the armed toy soldiers in battle and plumping himself and her on a throne in this most sugarplum of a role.
 
But the Cedarbrook Middle School student has worked hard for it: "I've been studying professional dance for six years." And he owes quite a bit, he says, to the talented teachers at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy here.
 
A smart kid, he somewhat smarts when stereotypes of ballet dancers are voiced.
 
"Everybody plays sports at school," says the baseball and hockey enthusiast and accomplished player, too, "but ballet is very tough -- especially when you're taught by Russians," which he was during a summer session at the rigorous and respected Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Connecticut.
 
No tough love at home, just filial loving support coming from both parents Lisa and John, a computer programmer, as well as older sibs Emma and Golde.
 
The next step? He'll probably be handling princely roles for the next few years.
 
But one day, he says, "I'd like to act."
 
He acts his age, unspoiled, even while traveling in the jete stream of professionals. It is all so wonderful being on stage, where he says he knows he belongs.
 
A fan of the film Billy Elliot and its en point perusal of children in ballet, he totally agrees with the number from A Chorus Line in which dancers concede that "Everything Is Beautiful at the Ballet."
 
"It certainly is," he says with a sigh. "It's magical."
 
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