Irish Dancing Mourns Ian Luebbers

On June 11, 2019 one Irish Dancing’s young stars, Ian Luebbers passed away suddenly. The exact circumstances of Ian’s passing are unknown but believed, by authorities, to be an accident.

Ian was named Irish Dancing Magazine’s “Most Likely to Succeed” in 2015 in the Irish Dancing Man of the Year contest. This vibrant young man was gifted in everything he put his mind to. After winning four Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas titles and placing as high as 2nd at the All Irelands and 5th at the Worlds with the Broesler School, he decided to take a break from Irish Dancing during his high school years. “At that age, I didn’t have a healthy perspective on dancing. I felt a relentless pressure to succeed, and by the time I entered high school I was burned out,” shared Ian in his 2015 interview. Not one to rest, Ian took up soccer, a sport he had keen

interest in but never played competitively prior to high school. Within two years he had been accepted by an elite soccer club and an Olympic Development Program regional team. As he progressed in his soccer career, many lessons learned in Irish Dancing transferred to his play time on the field. As with Irish Dance, Ian felt the key to success was to “work hard and work smart” as he shared with Irish Dancing Magazine in 2015.

  By his fourth year of high school (senior year), Ian was named captain of his soccer team and offered scholarships to several universities. It was at this time that Ian realized he desperately missed Irish Dancing and decided to begin competing again. Within two years he made an incredible comeback, placing on the podium at the World Championships.

  Ian had a brilliant mind. At the time of our 2015 article, he was studying physics at the university level. He was particularly enthralled with astronomy and the solar system. His studies brought him to Europe where he attended Oxford University. Eventually Ian worked his way to Dublin and joined the esteemed Holly & Kavanagh Academy. Ian enjoyed continued success in everything he set his mind to and with Holly & Kavanagh achieved his dream of winning the World’s Senior Men’s title in 2018.

  Ian had a loving family, friend group, and support system but dealt with an internal struggle and challenge that only he knew the true depth of. In a statement today his family shared,” Ian fought a hidden battle with mental illness, an illness that cannot be seen, but was felt so deeply in his soul.” They went onto say Ian was healthiest and at his best when he was dancing. “Dancing was his passion and joy. He was an inspiration to all of us.”

  Ian was more than a World Irish Dancing Champion. He was a son, grandson, brother, and friend to many. His life touched others in profound ways. Ian is being mourned by fellow dancers and friends who are taking to social media to pay tribute to the talented dancer. He most certainly left an indelible imprint on the Irish Dancing world. Ian’s immense talent, drive, and the way he loved and lived is what people will remember most. For those interested in contributing to a fundraiser in honor of Ian, please visit:


* Photo credit soccer shot:  A Fresh Focus Photography

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