Instead, the honor means that Luke isn’t just a prodigious tapper, he’s one of the best young dancers in the United States and Canada, whether the style is tap, hip-hop, lyrical or jazz.
The weeklong competition capped off a busy school year in show business for Spring family. Last fall, Luke took two months off from fourth grade at Cedar Lane Elementary School to make his Broadway debut in “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” (He will join the musical’s tour in the fall.) In March, Samsung began airing his first national commercials, and in June he performed at the Tony Awards. Lucky for those of us back home, he fit in performances at DC Tap Fest and the Ford’s Theatre Gala. His big project this summer is taking singing lessons, so he can belt a bit better at his next Broadway audition. Because there will be a next Broadway audition.
“Luke’s future is beyond bright,” said Chloe Arnold, a co-founder of DC Tap Fest who was also a judge in the Dance Alliance contest. “I see dancers all over the world, and I’ve never seen a kid like Luke. He’s executing sounds with power, force, rhythmic clarity and speed. He’s just phenomenal. And the best part is that he’s just so much fun to be around. He’s just here to work hard, do what he loves and have a great time.”
When things began to click
Luke’s dancing biography begins, like the back story of so many male dancers’ careers, with one too many trips to his older sisters’ dance studio. One evening, while his mom, Jill, was trying to round up Lucy (now 18) and Cami (now 20) from their ballet and jazz classes, 4-year-old Luke rooted around in the lost and found.
“I found a pair of tap shoes,” Luke recalls. “I put them on, and I started making noise with my feet.”
More specifically, he started doing with his feet what he had been doing with his hands on a drum set he’d been given for Christmas. Luke’s mom enrolled him in classes at Studio Bleu Dance Center, where he quickly became a better tapper than his sisters. Eventually, the family added hip-hop, jazz and ballet to his dance regimen.
“How do I teach a prodigy and make him better than he already is? That has been an age-old question,” said Justin M. Lewis, who has been teaching Luke since 2009. Luke was a natural, but needed guidance with counts, phrasing and showmanship.
When Arnold, a D.C. native whose dance accolades include serving as a dance double for Beyoncé, gave a master class at Studio Bleu, she was shocked by Luke’s preternatural ability, and asked Jill if Luke could perform at DC Tap Fest in 2010.