The reviews are in and George Fua is a hit. On the football field and on stage.
Fua, a starter at tight end for the Cal State Northridge football team, is a man of many talents. And he displays them in strikingly different settings.
In the Matadors' opener at 3 p.m. PDT today in Northern Arizona's Walkup Skydome, Fua will play the role of a 6-foot-3, 240-pound bruiser.
His assignment, a bit-part: To help clear a path for Albert Fann, CSUN's All-American tailback and, if need be, haul in a pass or two.
It will mark Fua's first football game for the Matadors after transferring from San Joaquin Delta College. However, it will not be his debut performance as a Northridge student.
Fua's opening act came during the CSUN Modern Dance Spring Concert a few months ago. His routine, a duet, earned a good measure of acclaim.
"A very powerful, yet fluid and interesting performance," said Bob Burt, Matador football coach and novice dance critic. "It was really good."
Fua grew up in San Mateo but his family's roots are in the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific. Polynesian dance is a family tradition and Fua has been on stage doing hula and fire dances since he was a child.
At San Mateo High, Fua turned actor and became as well known for his dramatic roles as he was as star of the football team.
Four years ago, he accepted an athletic scholarship from Ricks College, a two-year school in Southern Idaho, where he expanded his repertoire by learning ballet.
Oddly enough, he says he did it to improve as a football player.
"It helps tremendously, your balance, coordination and control of your body," Fua said. "A lot of my leaps are ballet leaps and it helps my footwork for blocking too. I can get out better."
Considering his size and muscular build, perhaps it is not too surprising that Fua has not been ribbed by teammates about his dancing.
"It's different, being a dancer and being a football player, but my teammates have never made fun of me," Fua said.
In fact, they have been rather supportive.
After leaving Ricks and transferring to San Joaquin Delta, Fua joined the Stockton Concert Ballet Company and in 1989 he was one of the lead dancers in that outfit's version of "The Nutcracker."
Several of his junior college teammates came to watch.
"They complimented me," Fua said. "It was real neat."
Burt said several CSUN players watched Fua's modern dance performance in the Northridge show. All came away impressed.
Fua has not decided if he will continue dancing. Performing on stage while also training for football has left precious spare time for his family, which includes his wife Helen and a 2-year-old son, Sione.
"It's nothing I seriously want to get into," Fua said of his dance career.
So for now, Fua's fancy footwork will be confined to a football field. If you watch closely, you can see it.
"You can see it the way he handles himself out there in his control and movement and balance," Burt said.
And should Fua ever score a touchdown, fans might be in store for a rather unique end-zone dance.
Matador notes: Matt Nicolo, a projected starter at right guard, strained his knee in practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable for today's game. Nicolo (6-2, 265) had his knee drained of fluid Thursday but was among CSUN's traveling squad of 52. . . . Fann is working on a streak of three consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards. He closed last season by gaining 150 yards against Santa Clara, 251 vs. Cal State Sacramento and 182 vs. Southern Utah State.