Misha Gabriel is getting a chance to step up in ''Step Up Revolution.''
Gabriel has worked as a dancer and/or choreographer with such performers as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Pussycat Dolls, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.
But before getting cast as Eddy in the fourth installment of the ''Step Up'' dance movie franchise (which opens nationwide on Friday), his acting credits consisted of playing ''Dancer'' in ''Clerks II'' and ''Detroit Dancer'' in ''Center Stage: Turn It Up'' and uncredited roles as a dancer in ''Jackass 2,'' ''The Muppets Movie'' and ''Footloose.''
Gabriel credited his best friend, ''Footloose'' star Kenny Wormald, for fueling his acting aspirations.
''When he booked 'Footloose,' we were both just a couple of dancers trying to make it in L.A.,'' Gabriel said during a promotional stop in Cleveland. ''That was a game changer. If he can do it, I can do it.''
Gabriel had been taking acting classes for about a year when he was asked to audition for the lead role in ''Revolution.''
''When I went in for the lead, they also handed me the sides for Eddy, and I immediately connected with the part,'' he said.
Eddy is the best friend of Sean, who is played by Ryan Guzman. The pair lead a dance crew in Miami known as ''The Mob,'' that is known for creating intricate ''flash mobs'' - performances that seem to spring out of nowhere in public places. Their partnership is threatened by the arrival of Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a wealthy hotel owner who is a trained dancer.
Gabriel described Eddy as ''a fiery, hot-headed, quick-to-react character. I don't want to give any spoilers away, but something happens that rocks my world a bit. I feel threatened and in turn do something that creates tension between Emily and Sean. I guess you could say I'm the bad guy for awhile.''
While Gabriel's character is a flash mob veteran and the actor participated in a flash mob Wednesday in the Cleveland area as a promotional event, Gabriel doesn't do flash mobs in his free time.
''No, usually you have to pay me to dance,'' he said.
Gabriel, 25, has been getting paid to dance since he was 17 and hired as a backup dancer on an Aaron Carter tour. Within five years of that job, Gabriel was dancing with his idol, working with Michael Jackson in rehearsals for his ''This Is It'' concerts at the time of Jackson's death. Gabriel said 99 percent of the dancers today were inspired by Jackson, and it was an amazing, challenging - and tragic - experience.
''We never made it through the show (in rehearsals) without stopping,'' he said. ''Part of that had to do with Michael being such a perfectionist. At the time, I was thinking they were just very meticulous. But when he passed, it brought to the reality that maybe he was a little bit weak.''
After working with Jackson, Gabriel said he couldn't envision ''auditioning for the Justin Bieber tour,'' so he's turned his attention to choreography. He done work for ''Dancing with the Stars'' and ''American Idol'' along with creating routines for one of his other idols, Justin Timberlake.
''Justin Timberlake is the reason I packed up my bag and moved to L.A.,'' Gabriel said. ''I wanted to be him. He was awesome to work with. There are not many artists who can dance as good as him. I didn't have to dumb down his choreography.''
And, like his friend Wormald, Gabriel would like to continue pursuing acting roles, even in movies that don't require his dance skills.
''I got the bug after this movie.''