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SAN DIEGO — A 14-year-old ballet dancer has a lot to be thankful for after donations from community members started pouring in to help him further his dance career.

A lot of kids who start a sport at a young age drop it after a few years, sometimes because of the small likelihood of reaching the professional level. Marcus Taylor wasn’t like most kids.

“I really love expressing and performing,” Marcus said. “It’s really beautiful art and it’s just so much fun on stage — jumping, turning and making everyone happy.”

The San Diego native practices at Golden State Ballet for 5-6 hours a day, six days a week. He’s been there since 2019, when his talent earned him a scholarship for dance.

“When you know, you know,” said Cindy Huang, co-director and co-founder of the ballet studio. “A kid like him doesn’t walk through your doors very often.”

The number of awards Marcus has received for his dancing proves his readiness for the elite level. He most recently won the Youth America Grand Prix in Tampa, Florida, for the second year in a row. As a result, he was awarded a tuition scholarship to the prestigious Princess Grace Academy in Monaco.

Marcus’ dad is an active duty sailor in the U.S. Navy, which led to another scholarship from the Armed Services YMCA.

“When you observe or see Marcus and how focused he is, and his passion for dance, I have no doubt that he’s going to be tremendously successful,” Armed Services YMCA’s Tim Ney said.

Even with both scholarships, Marcus was still struggling to fund expenses for room and board, travel, food, and more during his time abroad. His mom Ann decided to create a GoFundMe page to help and the donations started pouring in. Marcus has now surpassed his $16,000 goal.

“Thank you all for your support and gifts with helping me to pay for the first year expenses of a 3-year program,” the GoFundMe says. “Your help means more than you realize and I am overwhelmed by your generosity. Also thank you to those who are still giving as all that extra support will go toward paying for the second year of the program. I can’t thank you enough.”

He plans to start attending Princess Grace Academy beginning this fall.

“You would never know he’s this talented,” Raul Salamanca said. “He really stays quiet, works really hard, he’s very confident [but humble].”