By | Kayla Steinberg ’16

Ian Luebbers ’17 (Downingtown, Pa.) has a schedule similar to those of many Macalester students, balancing academics with music, sports, and clubs. But this physics major/soccer player/violinist has another, less common pastime. He happens to be one of the world’s best Irish step dancers, placing fifth in his age group at last spring’s 2014 Irish Dancing World Championships, held in England.

Despite his commitment to the dance form, Luebbers didn’t choose Macalester for step dancing. “I came here because I was recruited by the soccer team, I got a good financial aid package, and Mac was one of the best academic schools I got into,” says the forward. “All that swayed me to come here.”

However, once Luebbers got into Mac, he did a quick Google search and found an Irish dance school just down the road from campus. “It was too convenient not to keep dancing,” he says.

Luebbers practices regularly at that school, O’Shea Irish Dance on Prior Avenue, as well as in the multipurpose studios in the Leonard Center. He also manages to fit in most of the major Irish dance competitions during school breaks: over Thanksgiving he returns home to Pennsylvania to compete in the regional championships; he competes in the North American championship during the summer; and he travels over Easter weekend to participate in the world championships, which will be held in Scotland this year. He also may compete in a regional competition in Minneapolis in the future.

Besides its proximity to an Irish dance school, another bonus of attending Macalester for Luebbers was the school’s connection to Celts and plaid. All male Irish dancers used to wear kilts, says Luebbers, until the last few decades when they switched over to pants so the judges could better see their legs.

Although Luebbers’s current competition costume is black dress pants, a black shirt, a patterned vest, and a tie, he wore a kilt in group dances when he was younger. “That’s why I thought it was really cool when I found out that Macalester’s mascot was a Scot,” he laughs.

December 15 2014

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