Some people dance for the applause. Some dance for exercise. Some dance for the love of the art. Manual “Lukky” Harvey dances to help others. He dances to build bridges between communities and inspire young people to achieve their dreams.
The 32-year-old is one of Kansas City’s best hip-hop dancers and most respected teachers.
In a career spanning more than 10 years, he has shared the stage with R&B artists including Brandy, Avant and Keisha Cole and made appearances on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
In demand around town and across the nation, he travels the country teaching, as well as bringing top instructors and choreographers to KC through his iPush Workshop Series.
Born in Columbia, Mo., Lukky spent his childhood in St. Louis, the son of a single mom who worked two jobs to raise him and his sister. His father was incarcerated during most of his childhood.
“My mom gave us everything,” he said. “She was an amazing woman.”
Like a lot of dancers, Lukky started young. He began at age 5, dancing with the Blind Boone High Steppers, a drill team and drumline group along the lines of the KC’s Marching Cobras. Then he took a short break from dance — a bit more than 15 years.
His family moved to Kansas City when he was a teen. At first he attended Rockhurst High School, but he found the transition from public to private school tough to take.
“Also, it wasn’t co-ed,” he said with a laugh.
He transferred to Center High and graduated but didn’t know what to do with his life until he saw a bunch of kids break-dancing at Ward Parkway Center. At first he only watched, but he kept coming back. Eventually, one of the dancers, nicknamed Turtle, convinced him to join in.
“He taught me how to pop, how to break. Stuff like that,” Lukky said.
Turns out, Lukky was a natural. Within a few years, he discovered krumping, a particularly energetic style out of Los Angeles that was created as a way for kids to escape gang life. Krumping is also considered a faith-based art, and it was about this time that Lukky started to grow in his Christian faith.
“It’s all for the glory of God,” he said.
Soon he got a phone call. Even in the digital age, it seems, there’s no advertisement quite like word of mouth.
“They heard about me from friends and somehow got my number,” he said.
He was hired to teach at Jody Phillips Dance Company in Overland Park.
“An amazing woman,” he said. “Amazing studio, amazing faculty. I think I learned more there than I ever have when it came to dance. About studio life, choreography, about teaching — not just being a dancer, but being a friend and a mentor, too.”
He found he had a special gift for working with children.
“That’s something instilled in me by my mom,” he said. “She’s loves mentoring and building confidence and awareness in our youth. That’s definitely something that I have also.”
Within two years, in December 2011, Lukky decided to strike out on his own, founding the iPush Workshop Series. He was moved by the broad spectrum of kids who showed up.
“When I taught classes in the city, it would be all urban kids,” he said. “When I taught in the suburbs, it was suburban kids. But when I did iPush workshops it was everybody from everywhere.”
Celebrating its fifth anniversary in September, iPush will have three performances around town; in Liberty, Overland Park and Lee’s Summit.
As fun as the shows are, though, it’s still teaching that inspires him most.
“Building up the next generation,” he said. “For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
▪ Lukky and iPush will perform three times Sept. 24: 2 p.m. at the Fall Festival in downtown Liberty; 4 p.m. at the Fall Festival in downtown Overland Park; 7 p.m. in downtown Lee’s Summit at Oktoberfest. All performances are free.
The five year anniversary workshop will be Sept. 25 at MelRoe's School of Dance in Liberty. For more information, check out Lukky's Facebook page.
▪ The Kansas City Ballet kicks off the 2016-17 season with a classic, “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which runs Oct. 7-16. The music, of course, is by Felix Mendelssohn, and the choreography is by Bruce Wells. The production includes the full company, live vocalists and 50 students from the Kansas City Ballet School.
Dance lovers might also want to attend Ballet Bash on Oct. 1, a benefit for the company and the school.
▪ For something very different, check out “Bound” from Burlesque Downtown Underground. This adult-themed show, scintillating but artful, will explore the world of sexual fetishes. Tastefully, we assume. See it Sept. 24 at Musical Theater Heritage inside Crown Center.
▪ Owen/Cox Dance Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary. That party includes the world premiere of “Milestones,” a collaboration with Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. The program will feature five works set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Dmitri Shostakovich, among others. See it Oct. 27 at the Polsky Theatre at Johnson County Community College.
▪ Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company is also celebrating a big anniversary, its 25th. The celebratory fall concert Sept. 23 and 24 will include “To Have and to Hold” by Shapiro and Smith, “Ferment” by company co-founder Mary Pat Henry, and a world premiere by Cuban-born choreographer Edgar Anido. See that show at White Recital Hall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
▪ Alvin Ailey has always had a special relationship with our city. That will be evident when Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey presents Ailey II Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The celebration of the internationally known company includes a week’s worth of events, including Ailey in Your Neighborhood, a series of free, pop-up performances in public spaces, on Sept. 27. To see the company in more traditional setting, you can also catch one of three shows at the Folly Theater.
▪ The Harriman-Jewell Series is known for bringing some of the world’s greatest performers to KC, and booking Jessica Lang Dance continues that tradition. The highly regarded New York City-based company, founded in 2011, is dedicated to performing the works of former Twyla Tharp Jessica Lang. See them on Oct. 1 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
▪ The Johnson County Community College Performing Arts Series also brings top-notch talent to town, and its 2016-17 season is no exception. In January, you can catch Koresh Dance Company. Founded in 1991 by Israeli choreographer Ronen Koresh, the Philadelphia-based company blends ballet, modern and jazz styles. That show is Jan. 21 at Yardley Hall.
Feb. 25, you can see Bodytraffice, a cutting-edge contemporary troupe that’s making big waves in L.A.
Freelance writer Hampton Stevens writes for regional and national publications. He lives in Kansas City.
▪ Dance in the Park, Sept. 10, Roanoke Park. KCParks.org
▪ Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Sept. 23-24, White Recital Hall. UMKC.edu/CTO
▪ Ailey II, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Folly. KCFAA.org
▪ Jessica Lang Dance, Oct. 1, Kauffman Center. HJSeries.org
▪ Kansas City Ballet, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Oct. 7-16, Kauffman Center. KCBallet.org
▪ Owen/Cox Dance Group, “Anniversary Moves,” Oct. 27, Polsky Theatre. OwenCoxDance.org
▪ AXIS Dance Company, Nov. 11, Lied Center. Lied.KU.edu
▪ Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” Nov. 26, Midland. MidlandKC.com
Calendar compiled by Dan Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org