By Amy McClure
By Amy McClure
ROCHESTER — After five years of training as a gymnast, 9-year-old Mathias Toro received the opportunity of a lifetime: to attend one of the most prestigious ballet schools in the United States — on a full scholarship.
Although Mathias’s hadn’t trained as a ballet dancer before, Mathias was invited to attend an audition this past February at the School of American Ballet.
“The audition went well, but we didn’t want to get too excited about it — he is a gymnast, not a ballet dancer,” remarked Mathias’s father, Alex Toro after the audition in April.
Mathias received the good news of his acceptance in a letter from the school, which read in part: “We are delighted to inform you that Mathias has been accepted to the School of American Ballet’s 2016-17 Winter Term as a result of attending our recent audition… your tuition cost for the 2016-17 Winter Term will be $0.”
The Toro family initially did not know how the School of American Ballet heard of Mathias’s talent. After Mathias was accepted they found out.
“After we heard Mathias had got in, we found out that a coach he had in Miami felt he could also have great ballet ability,” explained Alex Toro. “Without telling us anything, the former coach sent a video of Mathias over to the School of American Ballet requesting an audition.”
Mathias began gymnastics in Florida before the Toro family relocated to Rochester, Vt., in 2012. Mathias first joined Head Over Heels in Rutland, and then moved on to Green Mountain Gymnastic in Williston. The Toro family made the hour-long commute from Rochester to Williston multiple times each week.
“Lessons are normally two to three times a week, for roughly three hours. In addition to the weekly lessons, he had extra practice time on Saturdays, too,” Alex Toro explained.
But the training paid off. As soon as Mathias started competing he made the podium placing second in the state in both 2013 and 2014.
The Toro family expects to receive Mathias’s weekly schedule for the upcoming academic year sometime in mid-June.
“None of us know what to expect in New York,” Toro said. “The training will increase in intensity.”
Mathias Toro commented, “Gymnastics and ballet are different; dancers need stronger lower body strength,” he explained. “Ballet dancers don’t use their hands as much.”
The Toro family will relocate to New York City over the summer to start the new academic year there. Both Alex and his wife Alecia Toro will be leaving their current careers in Vermont to find new employment in the city.
“This is a huge opportunity, of course. We were not expecting this at all,” said Alex Toro. “The moving part is a big expense,” he added.
They have created a gofundme account to help them make this incredible opportunity possible for Mathias. More information on this visit, http://gofundme.com/helpMathias.