He has been a hunter for years, and played lacrosse for two years at Vineland High School, but when he had to make a choice, Dean Maffei went all out for dance.

“Over the summer, I was doing shows ... and it changed my outlook,” the 16-year-old junior said. He decided to study dance in college and make it his career. He had been considering law enforcement.

Maffei just got his first professional gig in the Eagle Theatre production of “A Chorus Line,” which opened Friday at the Hammonton theater. He has been a student at Paul Morris Dancexplosion in Hammonton since age 9, first taking hip-hop, then expanding into ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical and tap.

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“Before then, I would play football and hockey. Dance wasn’t something I ever knew about,” he said. Then, while at the studio with cousins, he was invited to try a class and loved it.

“It might sound dramatic, but I think dance is something I was born to do,” he said.

He had the title role in Dancexplosion’s “Nutcracker” in December, and in November performed with the company on a Carnival Cruise Lines trip, he said.

He has given up a lot for dance, including lacrosse and hunting trips with father, Kevin Maffei, a retired police officer in Winslow Township. His mother, Gina Ammirato, of Vineland, is a registered nurse.

In “A Chorus Line,” he plays Roy, one of the dancers who gets cut after auditions in the play.

“I’m only in the first 12 minutes of the show, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” Maffei said. “It only gets better from here.”

Tickets are $25. Call 609-704-5012 or see theeagletheatre.com

Cataract surgeon aids Africans

Dr. Howard J. Gross, of Margate, traveled to Maseru, Lesotho, in southeastern Africa, for two weeks in December to perform cataract surgery. He donated his time and travel expenses, and worked with the nonprofit Surgical Eye Expeditions International, according to the organization.

Gross is the medical director of Horizon Eye Care in Margate. This is his second trip with SEE to Africa, where many people are blind from cataracts. In January 2011, he went to Ghana to perform the surgery.

“This was a humbling experience for me and exhilarating for the patients who had their vision restored by the surgery,” Gross said.

Cataracts cause about half of the world’s 37 million cases of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.

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