By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Lucas Bilbro, 15, has leg muscles a middle linebacker would die for.
But the 5-foot-11, 175-pound high school sophomore is more comfortable in a pirouette than plowing into running back.
Coaches and peers at sports-oriented Cardinal Newman High School were eyeing Bilbro last year. Basketball players said, “You’ve got hops,” he recalled, a tribute to his leaping ability.
Playing lacrosse at Sonoma Country Day School the three previous years, Bilbro was a defensive star, colliding with opponents, scooping up the ball and bolting the length of the field, often untouched.
“I’ve been told that I prance” when I run, Bilbro said, a deep voice belying his youthful face.
But he couldn’t accommodate six days a week of lacrosse practice at Newman and his nearly lifelong commitment to ballet, which began at age 3.
Dance won hands down, or perhaps gracefully held aloft.
“I just feel great,” Bilbro said. “Doing such amazing things with your body. Once I got a taste for it, I couldn’t let go.”
Bilbro, the youngest of four brothers in a Geyserville winemaking family, is on scholarship this year at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, one of 23 teens enrolled in the high school program.
Competition for the school was stiff, but Bilbro’s resume stood up: 12 years of training and two dozen performances at Teresa Lubarsky’s Healdsburg Ballet, a summer program with Joffrey Ballet School in New York last year, and two appearances in Darlene Walley’s annual “Nutcracker” at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.
“I was always really rhythmic as a child,” said Bilbro, who also has studied jazz and hip-hop dance and won prizes in swing and waltz at the Nordquist Junior Dance Club in Santa Rosa.
“He would just move it, shake it,” said his mother, Lara Bilbro. “He’s always been a natural.”
At Newman last year, Bilbro sang lead vocals and played piano in a student rock band. He also “dabbles,” he said, on guitar and drums and enjoys listening to alt/punk music, as well as rock, jazz and blues.
At The Rock School, academic classes run from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by ballet practice from 1 to 6:30 p.m. five days a week, with dance rehearsals on Saturday and a day off on Sunday.
Bilbro said he was intimidated by the skills of fellow students in a Rock School summer session this year, but resolved to keep pace.
“I want to be that good,” he said.
After high school, he hopes for a career in contemporary dance, as opposed to classical ballet. “There’s a lot more freedom in what you can do,” he said.
A male dancer is in his prime at 18 and likely is losing a step by his late 20s, so there is no time to lose, Bilbro said.
Lacrosse appears to be in the past, but Bilbro said there is a link between sports and ballet. The latter is “just as physically demanding, but you have to make it look easy,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family: Mother, Lara Wilson-Bilbro; father, Chris Bilbro; and brothers, Jake, 32, Scot, 29, and Sam, 26, live in Geyserville.
Hero: Rasta Thomas, dancer
Favorite book: “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind
Favorite music: Punk
Hidden talent: (to come)
Dream job: Professional dance