When Michael Londra and the Celtic Fire light up the stage at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia on March 16, the singing sensation will have with him some world-class talent, including Downingtown native, World Champion Irish dancer, and recently crowned 2019 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Champion Owen Luebbers.
“Owen is a brilliant dancer, and he’s absolutely the sweetest kid. I’m thrilled to have him in the show. It’ll be so nice to see him perform for a hometown audience and to show the locals how great he is,” Londra said.
The 20-year-old Luebbers, a third-year Media Studies and Production major at Temple University, is thrilled to be performing at home, too. He expects his family to be in the audience, as well as some of his friends from Temple. “I’m so excited to be performing in Philadelphia because my friends seldom get the opportunity to see me dance on stage,” he said.
He began touring with Londra in 2017. “That wasn’t my first time dancing on stage, but it was the first time it felt real,” he explained. “I knew I wanted to do something with Irish dance for the rest of my life by the time I was 12 or 13. After that tour I remember thinking, ‘Wow! I can do this forever.’ There’s just something so incredibly special about working with Michael and the incredible band and the other amazing dancers,” he added.
Luebbers continues to dance competitively as he prepares for Londra’s tour. He talked about dance, his family, and his role in show while on his way to the 2019 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship in Killarney, a title he won on February 23.
“Dancing is when I feel most myself. When I’m on stage, I’m free,” he said. “I’ve always been a creative person, so I knew I would want to pursue some kind of creative venture long-term. Irish dancing was the obvious choice because it was something I excelled at from a young age,” He explained.
To accommodate his dancing schedule as a boy, he was home-schooled until age 14. In high school, he played soccer, ran cross country and track, performed in school musicals, and was in the choir and the band, all while dancing competitively on the international level. “I wouldn’t change any of it. I feel like I really got the best of both worlds,” he noted. “The things I experienced and the places I had the opportunity to travel shaped me into the person I am today, and I’m so grateful for that.”
“Dancing is when I feel most myself. When I’m on stage, I’m free.”
He also grew up with two older siblings who are competitive Irish dancers and who, he said, are his biggest inspiration. His sister Cassidy won the North American Championship in 2017, and his brother Ian won the World Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2018. “They’re the hardest-working, most driven people I know. I aspire to be like them,” Luebbers said.
On Londra’s tour, in addition to Luebbers, Celtic Fire will include his sister Cassidy, World Champion Tadgh Spillane, and three-time World Champion Peter Dziak. Luebbers has experience performing with all of them. “They’re all incredibly talented in so many different, unique ways. I feel like the people I tour with are part of my family, and I’m honestly so excited to get back on stage with all of them,” he said.
He also said that working with Michael Londra is a special experience, one that has contributed to his growth as a performer. “Michael is genuinely the most caring, loveable person I have had the pleasure of working with. I’ve learned so much being part of his tours over the past few years. He has such a special presence both on stage and off, and he’s someone I really admire and look up to,” he said.
Londra is very proud of all of the dancers in his show. “These are amazing young people who have dedicated their lives to their craft. They’re the best for a reason. They bring to the show not just amazing talent but also a tremendous work ethic and a great attitude,” he said. “They’re genuinely good people, and working with them is a pleasure. Honestly, I love watching them dance. They entertain me as much as they entertain the audience.”