Local dancer will share the stage with Justin Bieber

Local dancer will share the stage with Justin Bieber

Showing his strength and balance, Raul Soto Jr. shows why he was selected to be a backup dancer for Justin Bieber. He showed some of his moves at the Dancin Spirit Dance Studio in Pawtucket, last Thursday. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)
Check out his winning video

PAWTUCKET – Raul Soto’s friends and family have known for a long time that he had a special talent, but nothing confirmed those feelings quite like validation from megastar Justin Bieber.

Soto, a Central Falls youth who dances at Dancin Spirit Performing Arts in Pawtucket, got word last week that he was selected to be a backup dancer for Bieber’s “Purpose” World Tour.

Soto was surrounded by friends and family on his 12th birthday on March 8 when he got a special message from Bieber’s choreographer, Nick DeMoura, and other performers telling him that his audition video on YouTube had been chosen as a winner. The room went wild.

Watch Soto’s YouTube audition video:

Soto told The Breeze he thought he had a shot when he submitted his video, but still couldn’t believe it when he got the news. He said Bieber will be the most famous person he’s ever met.

Christine Atamian-Bairos, owner and director of Dancin Spirit, on South Bend Street, told her students that Soto is a great example of why they should never get too caught up in their placement at competitions or individual awards, but instead on trying their best.

Last year, Soto was crying on her shoulder about not winning his competitions, but all of that was meaningless after his selection to dance with Bieber at his Boston show in May, she said.

Soto has shown a natural gift for dancing since he walked into Dancin Spirit six years ago, said Atamian-Bairos.

“He’s got swag,” she said. “Since the age of 6, he’s taken all styles, but has really excelled in hip-hop, acrobatics and break-dancing.”

She said she loves that his parents keep him in sports as well as dance.

“We are truly blessed at the school to have so many boys (more than 70), and Raul has grown to be a role model to the new students coming in,” she said.

Soto said he’s always been a big fan of Bieber. His favorite song is Bieber’s original “Baby” soundtrack.

Soto and his parents, Sandra and Paul Soto, are still waiting for details on exactly what his selection will mean. They said they’re still waiting for a contract.

Sandra Soto said she couldn’t be prouder of her son and the hard work he puts into everything he does. She said he does the work necessary to be a top student at the Community Charter Learning School even while pursuing other activities like dancing and football, playing with the champion Central Falls Panthers.

In addition to his parents, Soto said, he wouldn’t be where he is now without the teaching and support from Atamian-Bairos, a woman he deems “one of the biggest blessings in my life.”

Soto is pictured with dance teacher Christine Atamian-Bairos.