Langley tap dancer off to worlds could use a leg up

Twelve-year-old tapper has qualified for international competition in Riesa, Germany

Ian Jakubowski has been tap dancing since he was four years old. This December he will travel to Germany for an international competition, but his family is looking for sponsorship to help cover some of the cost of the journey.

You could call it the opportunity of a lifetime.

Since Ian Jakubowski is only 12 years old, that might be a bit premature. But it’s definitely a step in that direction for the young Langley dancer.

Ian has been selected to represent Canada on the Team Canada Junior Tap Team at the World Tap Championships in Riesa, Germany this December.

The Grade 7 Alex Hope student has been dancing since he was three years old,  starting out with hip hop and musical theatre. At four, he took up tap and and jazz dancing.

At five, he began competing in tap.

For Ian, there was no long road of regionals, provincials or national competition to travel.

Instead, it was a bid to gain a bit of competitive experience that landed him the opportunity.

“He went to the auditions to give it a shot for future years and he made it,” said Ian’s mom, Patricia Jakubowski.

He will be among the youngest participants in the competition’s junior category, in which dancers range from 12 to 15.

Ian has worked hard for the opportunity, said his mom.

Currently, he dances five days a week, taking seven classes at Dance Trance on the Langley-Surrey border, studying under the direction of Suzanne Zelmer.

Before he can go, however, there are still a few steps to complete, not the least of which is raising the nearly $6,000 it will cost to get the young tapper and his mom to the competition.

The fees — $3,550 for Ian and $2,350 for his mom — will cover flights, accommodation, breakfast each day and the contest entry fee.

The pair will be on their own for lunch and dinner.

It’s a steep ticket, says Jakubowski and so she is hoping to find some sort of sponsorship — “Whatever is offered” — to help pay their way.

Unlike sports, which often provide participants with some financial help, tap dancers are on their own, she said.

Although Ian is still in elementary school himself — he is in the Walnut Grove school’s Grade 7 French Immersion program — he is already taking on a leadership role with younger dance students, helping them with their lessons, said his mom.

“He does all kinds of dance, but tap is his favourite,” she added.

Ian has won numerous awards (including judges choice awards), trophies and scholarships over the years both as a soloist and as a group member.

Ian’s tap group made the finals at the first Langley Has Talent competition in 2011.

That year, the group performed in Disneyland. This will be his first trip to Europe.

Anyone who is interested in helping to sponsor Ian’s journey to the World Tap Championships is invited to email the family at jakubowskihome@gmail.com.

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