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PEOPLE AND PLACES TO WATCH IN 2011

Stoughton dancer leaps to starring role

Kenny Wormald has danced since age 6. Kenny Wormald has danced since age 6.
By Rich Fahey
Globe Correspondent / January 2, 2011

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STOUGHTON — Hollywood, meet Stoughton.

Stoughton native Kenny Wormald has been dancing on the edge of big-time stardom for a few years now, but this fall the 26-year-old will be feeling the kind of spotlight that only starring in a major motion picture can bring.

This past June, Wormald, a dancer and choreographer who has also dabbled in acting, was picked for the starring role of Ren McCormack in Paramount Pictures’ $25 million remake of the hit movie “Footloose,’’ scheduled to be released on Oct. 11, 2011.

“Footloose,’’ which propelled Kevin Bacon to stardom in 1984, is the story of a rebellious city youth who busts some moves in his new town, where dancing has been banned. The story has been updated and revised, with new music added to a score that already includes such hits as “Footloose,’’ “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,’’ and “Almost Paradise.’’

Producer Craig Zadan said in June that he has high hopes for Wormald’s ability to pull it off.

“When we discovered Kevin Bacon in 1984, we were both excited and gratified — and also knew the chances of ever duplicating that effort was a million-to-one shot,’’ said Zadan, who worked on the original and returns for the remake. “Decades later, Kenny Wormald proved history could repeat itself.’’

Wormald, a 2002 graduate of Stoughton High, headed to Los Angeles right after graduation, against the better judgment of parents Ed and Melanie Wormald and longtime dance coach Rennie Gold of the Sherry Gold Dance Studio in Brockton, all of whom hoped he would attend college.

“Kenny was always an excellent student,’’ said Melanie Wormald. “He would dance every day after school for five hours and then get all A’s in the morning. I think our hope was that he attend a college in L.A. and still be able to dance on the side.’’

Wormald was 6 when he met Gold, becoming a fixture at the studio through high school as he piled up a long list of wins in regional and national dance competitions.

In 1996, at age 10, he danced for President Clinton as part of the annual Easter celebration at the White House.

At age 11, he won the Master Dance of New England title; at 13 the Junior Mr. Dance of New England; at 14 the Teen Dancer of Boston; and at 15 the Teen Mr. Dance of New England. In 2002 he won a gold medal in tap at the World Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany, and he was Teen Mr. Dance of America the following year.

“You could see he was a natural performer right off the bat,’’ said Gold. “He picked up things so quickly. And from a young age, he knew what he wanted to do.’’

Wormald had some good fortune with “Footloose,’’ taking the role of Ren after beating out a large field of contenders. His co-stars in the movie are two-time “Dancing With The Stars’’ winner Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, and Andie McDowell.

His parents visited him on the “Footloose’’ set in Atlanta during filming last fall. “He was so excited,’’ his mother said. “He was glowing.’’

Wormald found work quickly after moving to Los Angeles with fellow dancer and Gold student Nick Baga. He danced in music videos for superstars such as Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and Prince; he has also shared the stage with Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez. He has also provided the choreography for musical groups such as the Pussycat Dolls.

His acting credits include “The Drew Carey Show,’’ the MTV series “Dancelife,’’ and the movie “Center Stage: Turn It Up.’’

Melanie Wormald said her son is interested in all aspects of film production, and she wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up behind the camera someday, after his dancing and acting career is over. She said she didn’t know whether Paramount will schedule events in or near Stoughton when “Footloose’’ is released, to take advantage of her son’s local ties.

Gold said many of his students have gone on to make dancing their careers and have attended prestigious schools, such as the Juilliard School in New York, but it is Wormald’s story that has captured their imagination.

“He’s been an inspiration to every kid who comes through our door,’’ he said.

Rich Fahey can be reached at faheywrite@yahoo.com.

In step with
Kenny Wormald
Awards: Master Dance of New England; Junior Mr. Dance of New England; Teen Dancer of Boston; Teen Mr. Dance of New England; gold medal in tap at the 2002 World Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany; and Teen Mr. Dance of America in 2003.
TV and film credits: “Drew Carey Show,’’ MTV’s “Dancelife,’’ “Center Stage: Turn it Up,’’ “Clerks II,’’ “You Got Served,’’ “Footloose.’’
Appeared with: Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Prince, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez.
Sources: Gold Dance Studio, Internet Movie Database, Paramount Pictures