Eric Ortega

Age: 26
Hometown: Union City, N.J.
Political party: Independent
Relationship status: Single

Eric Ortega credits his modern dance training with changing his life.

"I used it to get out of an urban area and to get scholarships to university. Boys don't usually dance, so they kind of throw money at it. It was really my way out," he said.

The 26-year-old dancer, who showed off his moves during his 50 Most Beautiful photo shoot, said he came to Capitol Hill to help other artists and to make a difference.

"I wasn't satisfied with applause at the end of the night or some kind of critical celebration of my work," he said.

"There were honest to god problems out there that I wanted to fix. I do believe many people end up on Capitol Hill because they want to do something bigger than themselves."

The legislative assistant to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) works on tax, insurance and housing issues — in addition to the arts.

"I saw artists who just didn't know the system. They didn't know how to apply to grants," he said. "If I could play some kind of role in the larger issues, while at the same time being a resource for artists and performers, I wanted to do that."

Maloney's district also happens to be one of the most arts-centered in the country, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, Carnegie Hall, dance companies and a couple of Broadway theaters all located there.

Ortega still dances, working a part-time job at Vida Fitness in the District's Chinatown neighborhood where "they have a dance space that I can use."

He's also training for his first marathon: the ING New York City Marathon in November.

"I've never run a marathon before, but I threw my hat in the race after what happened in Boston, so now I have to force myself to be able to do it."

In addition to his running and dancing, he lifts weights and stretches for 45 minutes to an hour every day to maintain his flexibility.

And he fuels all that training with a massive amount of food.

"That's probably where I spend most of my money. It's not on rent, it's on food," he said. "I have to average about 3,500 to 4,000 or 4,500 calories per day."

"It's running joke in my office that every time … my chief of staff sees me, it's with food in my hand."

— Emily Goodin

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