OAKLAND -- If there's a dancing gene, the De Guzman family has it.
And if there's a dance genie, Julian De Guzman, 25, definitely has access to it.
The Oakland native triple threat -- musical theater's term for an acting, singing and dancing talent -- is flipping, pirouetting and pounding his miraculous way on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning "Newsies."
His story, a magical mix of modeling, mentoring and medicine, begins in the Philippines, where his ancestors danced. It then soars to America, where his father, Dr. Joe De Guzman, studied and taught ballet, ballroom and Philippine folk dance. Then it spirals its way through the lives of Julian and his sister, Robyn, also a musical theater actor.
"My father had me dancing at age 3, taking ballet, jazz, gymnastic and tap classes," De Guzman said in a phone interview from New York City. "He had us trying anything and everything. He taught us to be well rounded."
As a young boy, De Guzman didn't like dancing -- until the boys who used to tease him started to think his acrobatic flips, hip-hop tutting and balletic tricks were cool.
"I realized I could do things other people couldn't do," he said.
Dancing was a big commitment by high school. De Guzman studied at San Francisco Ballet School, with Boogiezone's ENTITY Ultra Contemporary Dance Co., and under Janet Nordgren-Taddie at Castro Valley Performing Arts.
"She was one of the people who gave me confidence," he said.
Nordgren-Taddie was in the audience when De Guzman made his Broadway debut.
"I was looking up at him in the girders with tears in my eyes, and he was looking down three stories at me with tears in his eyes. I wouldn't have missed it for the world," she recalled.
To land the job, De Guzman auditioned with more than 800 people for Bloc, a talent agency with representation in New York City, Los Angeles and Atlanta. After that, he entered the "Newsies" auditions, where, even as an invited applicant, he had to dance, sing and act his way through an eight-audition sequence.
His father's lesson, that dance was to be respected, and a personal conviction that a talented artist can come from anywhere, provided the poise and focus he needed to prove his technique was strong enough for the show's physical demands.
"I think I was able to book this job because I was trained well," De Guzman said. "And I was proficient in singing, dancing and acting."
The show, about news boys in the late 1800s who go on strike with a burning desire to be a part of society, carries an angry, unleashed energy from start to finish.
"The most challenging thing is that each role is particular to the person who created it," De Guzman explained. "Trying to meet individual capabilities in a short period of time while maintaining the health of your body is mentally and physically tough."
As a swing (an understudy), De Guzman must learn 14 different ensemble roles and be prepared, even with only two hours notice, to go on stage and blend perfectly with the regular cast members.
"I spend a lot of time with the assistant choreographer and dance captains," he laughed.
His debut, as "Mush," was surreal.
"Broadway is the pinnacle," he said. "The hardest part wasn't the choreography. The hardest part were the thoughts racing through my mind."
What wasn't racing through his mind was the medical machinery he had left behind in the Bay Area.
"He's had to learn how to dance and walk three times in his life. Did he tell you that?" Nordgren-Taddie said. "He has a fire that comes from within."
Fueling his passion for movement is something that could have ended his career -- cancer.
"I underwent surgeries in 2009 and 2011 for a rare form of a bone tumor in my left femur head," De Guzman wrote in an email.
After cementing the tumor site, Dr. Richard O'Donnell at UC San Francisco Mt. Zion gave his patient the go-ahead to pursue his career.
"My hip feels great, and I don't have issues with it, but I do my best to do a full, comprehensive warm-up and cool-down before and after each performance," De Guzman said.
Eventually, he'd like to develop an arts education program in the Philippines, offering underserved communities access to dance and creative arts.
"My idea is to live for myself now," he said, "so that I can live for others in the future."