We love to highlight the talent in our neighborhood. Because we always say: “NoHo is only as great as its people.” But we appreciate it even more when someone comes from far away to take advantage of the training we offer in the NoHo Arts District.
We met the uber talented young Irish dancer, singer, actor Luke Feeney after he competed at the World Championships of Performing Arts for team Ireland in 2014 and 2015. He won a two-month scholarship to Millennium Dance Complex (MDC). We assisted his family in finding housing because Luke’s parents would be coming to NoHo with their son. He stayed at our favorite local apartment building, Lofts at NoHo.
Without doubt all of these successes (and many before these) can be traced back in some way to his experiences at World Championships of Performing Arts and the time spent with us in NoHo.
With regard to hip-hop dance, this is still his passion. Following recent auditions with a new, very much USA-styled dance academy (“Fly Studios”) he has joined a crew taught by choreographers who have also been trained at MDC, and one of the choreographers has trained under Ian Eastwood. Luke has also been following guidance from dancers he met in MDC and is recording his dancing and putting stuff up on his YouTube channel.
Luke and his family give us a recap of his experience at World Championships of Performing Arts, dancing at Millennium Dance Complex and living in the NoHo Arts District.
What made you decide to bring your entire family to LA again?
Luke the Dad: It is important to state that in Ciara’s and my mind, from the very minute we realized he had won his Millennium scholarship, there was never a doubt that we were going to get LA over to take up his scholarship, we just needed to figure out how and when. We were very fortunate that LA received sponsorship from an Irish company (Certification Europe) and had a very understanding school (St. Benildus College, Dublin, Ireland)! The decision for all our family to travel (there are only 3 of us!) developed due to a couple of reasons… number one was neither Ciara nor I felt that LA was old enough to travel and attend the scholarship on his own (he is only 16 and in fact looks younger); additionally Ciara did not feel comfortable to go on her own for the period, and for me I LOVE America, so once I managed to sort out my leave from my hospital (with an agreement to work remotely whilst we are in Los Angeles) our paths were cleared and we got to work on sorting out all matters with the fantastic help, support and guidance from Nancy Bianconi, President/CEO, NoHo Communications Group, Inc. It is worth mentioning at this point that my love for the USA stems from living and working in Edwardsville, Southern Illinois (for SIU – Southern Illinois University) back in the early 2000s.
Rosero McCoy Master Class at Millennium Dance Complex
What has been your experience at Millennium?
Luke Andrew: Very intimidating at first!! When I walked in to my very first class and our teacher started teaching us the dance, all my class mates around me appeared to be “getting it” with ease and I was really struggling, it all seemed so fast and at times quite complicated. But it never entered my head that I would not “get it”, or that I should quit, I was very determined as this was why I had taken up my scholarship, travelled all those miles, put all that expense on my Mom and Dad – to learn and improve – I just needed to stick at it and never give up! And as I took more and more classes (a minimum of 3 per day on average so far) and I began to “find my groove” (thanks to Kenya Clay for this phrase, fast becoming my dance mentor), the speed with which I picked up routines got better, I could feel I was improving, most importantly enjoying myself more and more and began to feel yes, I did belong in Millennium on the dance floor with these brilliant teachers and dancers. Now I love going to class, I have got to know the styles and approaches of many of the teachers and find that mostly I can quickly pick up routines and in several classes have been lucky to be selected to dance in small groups and get videoed. The Master Classes are brilliant as well and I got to take Matt Steffanina’s Master class which was amazing as I have been following his choreography on YouTube for sometime.
The location is ideal as we are living in an apartment in the Gallery at NoHo Commons on Fair Avenue and walk to/from classes each day, all the staff are so helpful, patiently answering my questions, always smiling and offering encouragement and the studios themselves are great – although they do get hot at times and you must remember I am from Ireland where “hot” for us is around 65F! The Millennium app also is very useful and user friendly to allow me to manage my classes with ease.
One funny story as well from my Millennium experience – one evening I had booked myself into the last hip-hop class of the day on the Millennium app and did not notice that the class had changed to a “Hottie Heels” class (dancing in high heels) on the screen in reception as this was my 3rd consecutive classes that evening and I had just stayed in the studio. I guess I should have thought something was not right when most of my class mates were now female and wearing high heels, but I just did not really notice. Also I should have been suspicious when our teacher seemed interested in who I was and how old as she spoke to me at the start of class. And the final thing that should have alerted me was when our teacher then said to all “I hope you all have your heels on!”… The class started and then it dawned on me, I was in the “Hottie Heels” class, which is most definitely not my style, however I felt I could not just leave as I did not want to offend my teacher, nor did I want to go gathering all my stuff together in my bag and walk out as everybody would see me! So I stuck it out for 90 minutes, doing as best as I could, and ran out fairly quickly at the end. A teachable moment for sure – I am not, and never will be, a “hottie heels” dancer and will not be buying high heeled shoes any time soon!
All in all a fantastic experience at Millennium so far, I love it and am living the dream! Once again, and I know I am repeating myself, but I am so lucky!
With choreographer George Jones at Millennium Dance Complex
How are the classes different from the ones you take in Ireland?
Luke Andrew: Without doubt the single biggest difference between classes in Millennium and classes at home in Ireland – which I realized very quickly, in fact after the first few minutes of my first class(!) – is that the overall standard of teachers, choreography and dance, and the speed at which the teachers expect you to understand, is significantly higher in Millennium. And this is how it should be and the reason why I have been chasing my “scholarship dream” for a couple of years. Although as I travelled over from Ireland I had not really thought about it, but now I realize I am delighted the classes are hard, intense and challenging, pushing me well outside of my hip-hop comfort zone; I am delighted I am “wrecked” each evening after classes as now I know how valuable my scholarship is – besides no gain without pain they say!
Other differences, in my experience to date of both attending classes in Ireland and in Millennium, include the amount and variety of difference styles of hip-hop taught by different highly knowledgeable and competent teachers; the size and variety of males and females and ages in many of my classes; the availability of focused master classes by well-known experts in hip-hop dance; the support of the Millennium staff who know dance, always greeting me with an encouraging smile and answering all of my questions; focus and benefits of a “dance-only” rather than a multi-discipline performing arts school; and finally the atmosphere within the classes where everybody supports and encourages everybody else, for example if your get called up to dance in a small group in front of the rest of the class (often videoed), everybody else is delighted, cheering and clapping, before, during and after you dance – that gives you a fantastic feeling.
What has been your dance training in Ireland?
Luke Andrew: I started dance training in Ireland back in 2011 when I joined my current Performing Arts School, “Talented Kids” (TK), Dublin, Ireland run Maureen V. Ward and her Team (Maureen was also my National Director at WCOPA in both 2014 and 2015). In TK we did dance classes as part of our 2 or 3 hour performing arts classes which also included acting and singing classes (usually the time is split 3 ways evenly). The style of dance taught in these sessions was not focused only on hip-hop, although we did cover introductory hip-hop moves, but was more focused on contemporary and modern dance for young people. Maureen gave me my start in hip-hop and through her dance classes I realized my true dance passion was hip-hop. Along with continuing my dance training with Maureen and her Team, and following my first WCOPA competition, I also searched and found out specific hip-hop classes with Jay Asolo in his “Asolo Dance Connection” dance school which I joined about 18 months ago in January 2015. Jay’s classes provided me with the focused hip-hop training that I really wanted, including training me hard for my hip-hop/funk competitions at WCOPA 2015 which ultimately led me to my scholarship-winning audition with Kenya Clay. In recent months Jay put together a dance crew “Original Predator Crew” to train us for the Hip-Hop International Irish National Championships in May 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was the first serious training any of us in the crew had ever been involved in and we made it to the final of the championships but did not place in the top 3. I was disappointed for sure and hope our crew stays together to return to the 2017 championships and beat all-comers. Without doubt my Millennium scholarship will help me.
What is your career goal?
Luke Andrew: Simple to answer I thought before these last few weeks in Millennium – my goal is to continue to work as hard as I can in my performing arts classes – be they dance, acting or singing – plus experience of working in the industry where I can, to allow me to get a career in the industry. However after what I have learned during my Millennium scholarship, I now know it is not quite as simple as that – I need to think seriously about what aspect of performing arts I really want to excel at… at the moment my feeling is I would love to be a hip-hop dancer, or at least get a career in the performing arts where hip-hop is an important part. I am asking, listening to and learning from as many experts and teachers – Maureen V. Ward especially – as well as people who work in the industry, checking back with people who have guided me in the past, and of course my parents and will choose what seems to be best for me – then give it 100%, focused, no excuses.
This triple threat has been busy since dancing with us in NoHo.
He recorded a children’s TV drama series, which is due to be screened on Irish TV from this called “Miss Mogul.”
Appearing as “Gavroche” in Les Miserable in the Belfast Grand Opera House. You can catch him at 1.52 in.
Following national auditions in July, he won the part of “Fat Sam” in “Bugsy Malone” at the Irish National Concert Hall, Dublin over Christmas and New Year 2016/2017.
Following auditions LA secured a place with “The Lir Junior Academy” in Ireland which provides performing arts training in association with RADA, UK.
Also Luke found out today he has made the finals of the forthcoming “Richard Harris International Film Festival One Minute Monologue” competition with a contemporary piece he recorded.
We look forward to seeing the great work this young man produces. Keep your eye on young Luke Feeney.
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