Bullied Staten Island teen pursues dream of dancing professionally

SUNNYSIDE, Staten Island — 16-year-old Michael Curley often dances six hours a day, six days week to make his dreams come true.

“I want to be a professional dancer,” Curley told PIX11. “Maybe in a company or on Broadway.”

Michael began dancing seven years ago at the age of 9 at the Stage Door Dance Academy in Sunnyside.

“I got picked on a lot. I was the weird kid in school. I dance ballet and that was a real problem for some kids," he said.

Dance was Michael’s way of carving out his own identity and fighting back after being bullied by kids in his elementary school. As a very young child, Michael was placed in special education classes because he had some challenges and developmental delays.

“He had low muscle tone. He wasn’t talking until after two, so he had early interventions,”Michael's mother Mildred told PIX11.

Michael is now a sophomore at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan. His father, a retired NYPD Officer marvels at his dedication.

“He gets up at six in the morning, goes to school in the city, dances at Ailey. He gets A’s in school. He has the drive," he told PIX11.

But how likely is it that Michael Curley of Port Richmond, Staten Island can achieve his dream?

“I think there are no limits on what he can do,” Nanette Yang, artistic director and founder Stage Door Dance Academy, told PIX11. “Michael is the kind of kid who has the mind for it, he has the focus and he goes for it."

And as Michael pursues his dream he has advice for others, who might be like him, or like Billy Elliot, the star of the movie and musical about a British boy who trades in his boxing gloves for ballet shoes.

“Every boy should do what they want to do. Whether it’s ballet. Jazz or tap, I think it’s very good that they’re exploring that field," he said.