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By Deanna Truman
Iowa City Press-Citizen
July 5th, 2008


Alex Ko, 12, 2008 


A lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to see New York. Alex Ko , 12, is dancing there.  The Iowa City youth is dancing with Steps on Broadway Sunday through Aug. 17.  The Northwest junior high seventh-grader won a scholarship to Steps, a prestigious New York Dance school. He’ll be taking four ballet classes a day as well as a couple of jazz lessons.

“It is exciting,” said Alex , of the trip days before leaving.

In addition to dancing, he was hoping to take in a Broadway show or two.

Alex has been dancing since a young child. “He was dancing around the house since he was 4,” said Tammie Cumming- Ko , Alex ‘s mom.

Because her sister was a professional ballet dancer, Cumming- Ko thought her kids might get the dancing bug as well. She enrolled Alex at age 4. At first, he wasn’t too impressed: He chose to sit on his hands instead of dance. But by age 5, dancing had become a passion. It is not uncommon for him to practice 20 hours or more a week.

His determination is rare, said Eloy Barragan, assistant dance professor at the University of Iowa. “Iowa City has a lot of talent, a young talent, but Alex has something very unique, he has maturity and dedication and is committed to what he wants,” Barragan said.

That dedication led to Ko taking classes June 5-16 at Steps on Broadway. Liking his style and technique, the school offered him a scholarship to come back in July and August. They weren’t the only ones. He was also offered other scholarships.

His dancing also attracted a talent manager.

Alex is hopeful that classes could lead to something more. He would jump at the chance to be in a Broadway production.

As to what attracts Alex to dance, he says it is the creative freedom. “You can do whatever you want, there’s not just one certain thing,” Alex said. “It’s free.” Barragan wholeheartedly agreed. “Ballet is fun,” he said. “It has a stereotype that it is long and structured. It is beautiful.”

Currently, Alex dances and takes lessons at City Ballet of Iowa, whose current headquarters are at Old Brick.

He met Sarah Barragan at the University of Iowa Youth Ballet, where he previously took classes, and where she served as artistic director.  Seeing his talent, Sarah Barragan encouraged her husband, Eloy Barragan, to take Alex under his wing.

The two immediately began working on a solo. Alex credits the piece for helping him work through his father Sam Ko ‘s death June 10, 2007. Through the solo the two became extremely close. In fact, they refer to each other as family.

When the Barragans chose to open City Ballet of Iowa a few months ago, it was an easy decision to follow, Cumming- Ko said.

In addition to this determination, what sets Alex apart from others is his stage presence, Eloy Barragan said. “Alex has something really special,” Barragan said. “There’s a soul to his dance and that is what people notice.”


© Copyright 2008 Iowa City Press-Citizen

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