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May 30, 2014 6:42 pm

Bat Mitzvah Dancer Aims for Broadway Career, Dreams of Doing ‘Black Mitzvah’ Parties

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Mazel tov hats at a bat mitzvah. Photo: wiki commons.

A professional dancer hired to entertain at bat and bar mitzvah parties shared his Broadway ambitions and his dream to throw “black mitzvahs” in a recent interview with The Boston Globe.

“In the African-American community we don’t do anything to celebrate our children coming of age,” said Dave Heard, 32. “I want to do ‘black mitzvahs.'”

Heard studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and toured internationally with Hairspray and Dreamgirls. A Roslindale native, he began his career as a party “motivator” — the industry term for hired interactive dancers — in 2010 after returning home to nurse a knee he injured while touring as Duane in Hairspray. A friend at Equinox gym, where he worked during the day, introduced him to the party motivator concept.

In competitive markets, party motivators can earn $500 a gig and Boston rates top out at about $450, The Globe noted.

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As a graduate of a Catholic boys school, Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, and the Jesuit Fordham University, Heard said he had limited knowledge of Judaism. He told The Globe, “I knew about yarmulkes and the Star of David.”

Now, more than 100 bar and bat mitzvah parties later, he can say the word “ha-motzi” like a true member of the tribe.

On a recent Saturday night, Heard was hard at work at the bat mitzvah of a certain Jordan Milstein in Foxborough.

“He makes every Jewish woman with four left feet feel like she can dance,” Jordan’s mother, Robin Milstein, 50, told The Globe shortly after her pas de deux with Heard to Put Your Hands in the Air. “Oh my God, he’s so much fun!”

Heard told The Globe he dreams of playing Simba in The Lion King or the Ugandan doctor in The Book of Mormon. However, after years of getting callbacks — but not roles — in Broadway shows including WickedThe Book of MormonIn the Heights, and The Color Purple, he has decided to spend the next six months perfecting his singing, acting and dance skills. Dancers “have a shelf life,” he admitted.

“The further in age the dancer gets from the kids the more difficult it is to have chemistry,” said Moleux, founder and president of Sudbury-based Northern Lights Entertainment. “There’s not a set number, like for a federal judge, but I’d say about 40. I’ve had to retire some dancers.”

After keeping the party going for hours at Jordan’s event — which included participating in a hoola hoop contest, teaching boys the “Kill It” dance moves, and shimmying to Super Freak — Heard headed out into Gillette Stadium’s parking lot at around midnight. “And that’s how we mitzvah,” he said.

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