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Column: Duluth East senior dances his way through life

Lucas Rollo (submitted photo)

Lucas Rollo has been dancing since he was little.

"I was always thrashing about," Rollo said. "My family always called me 'happy feet.'"

When he was about 6, his parents suggested that he join organized dancing, and it didn't take any convincing from them for him to do so. He thought it sounded great from the beginning, and now, nearly 12 years later, it's still his first love.

"I love dancing," Rollo said. "It's my passion."

Rollo dances many hours each week and wouldn't have it any other way. "I think the reason I love it so much is because it's being a part of something, he said. "You get to become the music and express yourself."

Although Rollo can perform all types of dancing, tap is his favorite. "You can become a band member with your feet," he said. Rollo also said that his tapping solos in general are also quite an accomplishment, based on the variety of genres in which he performs. He is able to dance to rap, techno, old school, Johnny Cash and everything in between.

Rollo said he cherishes the ability to make people happy with what he is able to do while performing. "I like performing. I like the emotions that you can evoke through dancing."

One of the highlights in Rollo's dancing career was competing at the national level in Las Vegas in 2010. "To be honored regionally, and then nationally, is pretty cool," he said.

Most of Rollo's training has taken place at the Madill Performing Arts Center in Duluth, but he has also taken some classes with the Minnesota Ballet and has had some training at a few tap dancing festivals.

When he's not busy dancing, Rollo is busy with school, taking part in various student organizations at East, working a new job and also playing rugby. "I just manage to always get it done," Rollo said with a laugh.

He does have to miss events from time to time. A few years back, he had to miss a rugby championship game because of a dance competition. "It's about knowing what's important to me and making sacrifices," he said. "I am a person that can get easily stressed,

but I just have to work my way out of it and look at the big picture."

Rollo has always been one of just a few boys studying in his dance classes, and said that when he was younger, it was a bit more challenging than it is now; but with a good group of friends, he's never really had to worry about anyone being mean or making fun of him.

"It was never hard with my friends; they all accept it," he said. "I do get some grief still and it used to faze me when I was little. Not anymore."

Now, he finds that most people are excited about his dancing and it is common for people to come up to him and ask him to dance.

"I tap wherever I go," he said. "I'm always wearing a shoe or a boot I can tap in."

As if Rollo needed more to do, he has found himself bitten with the acting bug in recent years. He has taken part in a few local productions and hopes to be involved in more in the future.

As he attends college next year, he's looking into studying musical theater and something like business so he always has a backup plan.

"No work is ever guaranteed," Rollo said.

"I know I'm not the most technical dancer, but I love to tap dance, and musical theater and performing, and I want to take that as far as I can."

Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at sarah.packingham@gmail.com.

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