Student Spotlight: Tapping Into Passion and Perseverance

In the summer of 2022, on a stage all the way in Pennsylvania, senior Luke L. stepped out into the spotlight for his last Headliners Nationals performance. In a pink button-up shirt, dark jeans, and bright teal, green and yellow tap shoes, Luke performed his solo “Drive,” earning him second place in the competition and the title of “Mr. Headliners 2022.”

This was Luke’s favorite performance. His mom, Christie, was in the audience, watching her son take “everything he knew and everything he learned” and leave it all out on the stage. Performing is the best part about dancing for Luke, and that day, he got to show the audience his best one yet.

“I was the only person west of the Mississippi there [at Headliners], so that instantly set me apart and gave me a unique edge that no one else had,” says Luke. “I got to perform my favorite genre for people who also loved dancing, with a special twist to it they hadn’t seen before (West Coast style dancing), to a song I loved and choreography I loved more. It was just a perfect storm.”

“He couldn’t have danced any better,” Christie adds. “It was such a proud parent moment indeed. Especially when we traveled home via airplane. His trophy wouldn’t fit in the suitcase, so we carried that thing through the airports and garnered so much attention!”

That moment on the stage at nationals was a culmination of thirteen years of dance lessons, practices, performances, competitions, and more. Although he didn’t initially like dance when he began as a five year old, Luke learned to love the art form, and for mom, it was a way for Luke, who struggles with ADHD, to work through some of his energy.

“I put Luke into tap dance at first because he was always moving, and I thought tap was a good way to channel his energy. He loved tap from the start, if memory serves me well. The other genres came in time!” says Christie.

Luke is now proficient in tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz, contemporary and musical theater, and dances at Northern California Dance Conservatory. Tap is his favorite, as it’s “the most connected with music over any other genre,” and the chance to perform is what keeps Luke moving.

“Performing [is] why we spend hours every single day training. Performing is like telling the world that I’ve spent all this time on this art form because I love it. It tells the audience, ‘Here, I love this thing so much that I break my body to do it well, here’s why you should love it too.’”

Click through the photos to see Luke in action!

Freestyle Learning

Taking into consideration Luke’s learning style and commitment to dance, Christie enrolled him in Visions’ University Prep Academy. Having seen success with her daughter, Luke’s older sister Charlotte, and needing a better option during COVID, Christie felt strongly that University Prep would be the best choice for her son’s education and future.

“I initially found Visions for my older daughter, who graduated Class of 2021. She had special needs and a mental health diagnosis that made traditional school a bad choice for her,” shares Christie. “We started Visions when she was in 6th grade (Luke was in 3rd then). I fell in love with the University Prep program, which became where I wanted my other kids for high school as well.”

For the last four years, Luke has been excelling in University Prep, getting good grades, building a strong relationship with his credentialed teacher, Jesse Dunn, and most importantly, maintaining the freedom and flexibility to continue dancing at an elite level.

“Visions beautifully let me pursue dancing AND education. The independent study [model] lets me learn material at my own pace, and not the class average pace,” says Luke. “Having a personalized speed…helped me fly through assignments and learn way better.”

The Next Stage

Luke is set to graduate this June and will be heading to The Norwalk Conservatory of the Arts in Connecticut. There, he will spend two years specializing in musical theater dance with the hopes of turning his passion into a career.

“The goal at NoCo is not to have their students graduate, but rather to get them successful work in the industry as fast as possible. As a result of this philosophy, they only accept 16 people per track who they know already have what it takes to succeed,” Luke explains.

With support from his mom, teacher, and dance mentors, Luke is pursuing a life centered around something he loves. Visions’ unique structure and the chance for Luke to receive a self-paced, rigorous education has set him up to follow all of his dance dreams. Like “Drive” says – “Do what makes you feel alive.”

“The Visions program offers a quality education at the student’s pace, which allows for more time for extracurriculars like dance, in Luke’s case,” shares Christie. “Visions has been a godsend to all three of my kids.”

Check out Luke’s performance at Headliners here! Want to see more? Visit the Lowe family’s YouTube channel!