When it comes to dancing, it's more than just an extracurricular activity for one New Bedford girl.

It's a passion -- a passion that has landed her one of the biggest roles of her life so far.

12-year-old Gabby Anacleto is a seventh-grader at Keith Middle School. She has been dancing for all but one year of her life. A student at Artistic Dance Studio in Fall River for more than six years, she started teaching younger students alongside instructors Keith Silva and Marissa Tavano.

Last summer, Anacleto's dance studio got a call from a woman named Jane Alsop, best known for choreographing for Beyonce as well as a few Netflix specials. She's good friends with instructor Tavano and was looking for a girl who could fit a role in a new Whitney Houston movie.

Anacleto was Tavano's first thought.

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It took a good week-and-a-half for Anacleto to learn she got the role, but it was a sweet moment indeed when the phone rang.

"I was in shock," Anacleto told Fun 107. "I was excited because now I was going to be in a movie in theaters and on TV, completely surprised I was going to be in a film as a backup dancer for Naomi Ackie, who is portraying Whitney Houston."

I Wanna Dance With Somebody, filmed partially in Massachusetts, will be released nationwide Dec. 23 and can be seen locally at AMC in Dartmouth and Picture Show in Fall River, among other theaters.

Anacleto's mom, Briana, is planning a private screening with friends and family.

"When it comes to dancing, I just love expressing emotion, having fun dancing and meeting new people," Anacleto said. "Being able to show my personality on stage is what I enjoy the most, especially dancing to hip-hop and jazz."

Courteous Briana Anacleto
Courteous Briana Anacleto

As far as what the future holds for the 12-year-old dancer, Anacleto plans on trying out for more movies.

For now, she wants to focus on her competitions in March.

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