Kiernan Lepp takes leaps and bounds

Mike Paulus, photos by Kelsey Smith |

“I love performance because I get to show off all the hard work from practicing and get to express myself. It gives me exercise, and it helped me gain a good work ethic and learn how to work on a team.”

Kiernan Lepp
Kiernan Lepp

That’s Kiernan Lepp talking, a local 11-year-old going into 7th grade this fall. Kiernan’s been dancing since he was a four-year-old at The British Academy of Performing Arts in Atlanta, before moving to Eau Claire in 2010 with his family. Since then, he’s logged four years of competitive dance at the Eau Claire School of Dance, often putting in 12 or 13 hours of practice a week leading up to performances – not counting time spent at home, in the yard, and elsewhere, stretching and practicing his moves. In short, this kid is dedicated.

Kiernan says, “In competitive dance they push you very hard, we practice until late at night which [makes you] tired for school, and it tests your strength. The hardest work was strength for lifting the girls and being precise for the performances.”

What’s more, Kiernan is brave. Braver than many adults you may know. Kiernan explains, “I like being a boy dancer because you get special roles, though it can also mean pressure from people at school. I love Hip Hop and Jazz the best ... Hip Hop because that is how I can express myself without being teased in school, and Jazz because I get to tell a story. I am really my best when I have a character to play for the performance, I can really get into a character.”

Kiernan’s mom Julie is understandably proud of her son’s accomplishments and hard work. She says, “His love of dance and performing has been all of his own. His first taste of being on stage and being able to move with music hooked him into a love of performing arts. Claiming dance and the arts as ‘his thing’ has helped him gain poise in the face of social and physical challenges.”

Most recently, Kiernan has decided to give dance a break and try theater for a change of pace. About this new venture, he says, “I get to expand my horizons, get to express myself in other ways, and it will help me see what else is out there. I want to try out for theatrical roles and get into the characters even more deeply than in dance.”

Did we mention he’s only 11 years old?


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