Danny Licht, culture editor
When the rest of the world imagines adolescent Southern Californians, they undoubtedly picture someone like Isaac Spector, a 14-year-old dancer, actor and improviser.
One of only five freshmen on Dance Company, Spector seems unintimidated by the more experienced dancers. Paloma Bloch, a junior on Company, says he is “a tad crazy, but in a good way.”
“He’s very energetic; he keeps [Dance Company] lively,” Bloch said.
That energy, a long-lasting trait, sparked his dance career when he was in fourth grade.
“I was really hyper around the house,” Spector said, “so my mom stuck me in dance classes.” This thorough exercise of the body worked well as a creative outlet, and he “started to enjoy it.”
At the Catskills Manor summer camp, he performed in “Bye Bye Birdie” when he was in second grade. He calls this experience his first venture into “real acting,” though he has forever been an actor at heart.
“I’ve always been overdramatic,” he said.
His maternal grandmother, Henrietta Weinberg, an established actress from Michigan, has been instrumental in his acting career. “I would run lines with her for the next production she was in,” Spector said.
When she came to his performances, he always felt “scared and anxious to hear what she would say.” He used her wisdom — as well as others’, but “especially hers” — to adjust his performances in subsequent shows.
“Seeing her perform and hearing all her stories inspired me to try and do what she did,” he said.
This summer Spector took an improv comedy class, which he called “amazing,” at Second City’s Hollywood branch. When the class ended, he was qualified to audition for the teen troupe, for which there were three open spots. He earned one of them and became the group’s youngest member. (The oldest is 18.)
At the beginning of each show, Spector’s troupe, Detention Hall, asks the audience for a word and plays off that word to “create an entertaining, exciting scene,” he said. In addition, the troupe has ventured into musical improv and sketch writing.
Spector is also a member of Film Club, though he admits he doesn’t have much time for extra extracurriculars.
Between Dance Company and the improv troupe, “it’s pretty tough to do extra stuff,” he said.
Detention Hall performs at Second City for free at 6:30 every Saturday.