Boro’s prancing prince: Flushing’s Rivera, 10, in ‘The Nutcracker’ at Lincoln Center

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Jerimy Rivera and his mom took three trains and a bus from his home in Flushing to get to his rehearsals at the School of American Ballet in December.

The regular commuting to Lincoln Center alone might wear the average person out, but the 10-year-old dancing the role of the Nutcracker prince at the New York State Theater was able to maintain enough energy to dance in back-to-back performances with the New York City Ballet throughout the holiday season.

“I never get tired,” Rivera said as he sat backstage between a matinee and evening performance of the show.

When he is not traveling, rehearsing or performing, he is practicing gymnastics at Chelsea Piers.

“Ballet is more fun because we get to mingle with the girls,” he said.

There is definitely a gymnast in him on stage, though.

Rivera said his favorite part of the ballet is “fighting the Mouse King because we wear this big costume and I get to jump on his back and he swings me around.”

Rivera has only been dancing ballet for a year. He auditioned for the School of American Ballet after another gymnast’s mother noticed his flair for dance. His mother, Mary Lou Arroyo, said she used to dance salsa and meringue when she was younger.

She brought her son to the Nutcracker when he was a 3-year-old. As he got older, he started attempting to do flips around the house. It was then she enrolled him in gymnastics.

“My mom said, ‘If you’re going to flip, you have to learn how to do it right,’” Rivera said.

He now flips competitively with a gymnastics team when he is not dancing.

But it does not detract from his ballet.

Last year, his first year at the school, he was a “party scene boy” in the Nutcracker. He also was a “boy in the park” in last spring’s “Swan Lake,” one of his favorite ballets.

There are not as many opportunities for a boy his age to perform in the company’s ballets. He said he will audition for “Swan Lake” again, though he is not sure whether he will try out for the prince’s role again next year.

Performing, he said, rarely makes him nervous.

His least favorite part of the routine is “waking up in the morning to get to shows and rehearsals.”

After the shows, his mother said he enjoys a little celebrity status.

“Sometimes when we are going out, he gets kids who ask for his autograph,” Arroyo said.

The attention does not keep Rivera from dutifully practicing both his gymnastics and his ballet. When asked which he likes better, he was uncharacte­ristically silent.

“Ballet,” he said eventually.

His mom said he told her once, “I wish I never have to one day chose between gymnastics and ballet.”

Rivera will be in “The Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center through Nov. 4. For ticket information call 212-870-5570 or go to

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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