Alex Ko: dancing through life - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Alex Ko: dancing through life

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By Sunny Layne

Iowa City (KWWL) -- We want to show you one eastern Iowan making the most of his time at college by dancing. His leaps and lifts have Broadway watching him. There's just one catch: he's not even a teenager yet.

Alex Ko is someone you should know.

10 o'clock in the morning, time for the University of Iowa's advanced ballet class.

Students range in age from 18 to 22, except for one, Alex Ko, a full decade younger than many students at 12.

"It's impressive," his morning teacher Thaddeus Davis said. "He has the focus to come early, to come before anyone else and be prepared to learn."

Since age five, this Iowa City boy hasn't stopped dancing through life.

"His teacher couldn't stop him," Alex's mother Tammie Cumming said. "He just kept going and going."

"When my mom played songs, I'd just dance around [the house] like my studio, " Alex said.

At age four Alex took the stage on his dining room floor. His mother says she knew she needed to get him into classes.

"He's actually kind of a shy quiet kid normally," Cumming said. "But when he's on the stage that other personality comes over."

After a series of dance championships, not to mention gymnastics wins as well, Alex started training with renowned University of Iowa ballet professor Eloy Barragan.

"He's very humble, very respectful," Barragan said. "That's what makes him special."

As Alex grew, so did his skill. But just last year one of his biggest champions died - his father Sam, after a brave battle with cancer. Alex and his two brothers mourned in different ways.

"The other boys sat down and cried hard," Cumming said. "This one didn't have that experience until he started working with Eloy on the piece."

"I wanted to do it for myself and for my dad," Alex said.

Wanting to memorialize his father, Alex began working on a dance with his teacher Eloy Barragan, reenacting memories like fishing and riding bicycles.

"Everyone in the audience, you saw people in tears," Barragan said. "Screaming bravo."

"I think I cried the first time I saw it," Cumming said. "As did everyone in the audience." 

"I think [your father] would've been very proud of you," she said to Alex.

After dance helped him process the loss of his father, Alex kept moving, eventually winning a scholarship to internationally-recognized Steps on Broadway in New York.

"All you have to do is go right up front and center," Alex said.

Taking the bold approach, Alex knew how to get noticed, and it worked. Eventually he caught the eye of agent Brian Gendece, who represents some of the top talent in the industry.

Now you could say Alex's opportunities have taken a giant leap.

"I had no idea I could be on Broadway," he said.

In October Alex will travel back to New York to the final auditions for the dancing and singing title role in "Billy Elliot," the London hit now coming to Broadway.

"Whatever meant to happen is meant to happen," he said.

This dancing prodigy takes his success in stride, willing to jump at a chance at Broadway.

"Hopefully I can do it all," Alex said.

Yet he knows no matter the outcome, he will continue to smile and dance through life.

Alex also excels off stage, he takes advanced science, reading and math classes at home.

We wish him the best of luck.

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