Seniors compete in Glasgow Irish dance competition
From October 4th to 11th, a group of Irish dancers traveled to Glasgow competing in the All Scotland’s Championship. The competition featured approximately 800 female and male contenders total, including Cathedral seniors Maggie Fitzpatrick, Melanie Kane, and Samantha Dalton and freshman Hannah Labrie-Smith.
The age groups range from dancers under the age of five to dancers over the age of 20. Dancing in the U-17 division, Maggie placed 15th, and Melanie placed 5th. Samantha danced with the U-18’s, placing 23rd, and Hannah placed 3rd in the U-15’s.
The students did not have to worry about unexcused absences. Samantha said, “The administration gives us excused absences for this trip because it is an international competition. I think this is a testament to the faculty promoting competitiveness in sports. They really help us out because we can talk to our teachers beforehand so that we can know in advance what work we will need to make up.”
To prepare for competitions, these girls practice year round between four and seven days a week at studios in San Elijo and Orange County.
Samantha said, “I’ve been dancing since I was eight years old. I first became intrigued when my grandma showed me videos of river-dancers.”
According to these girls, Irish dancers can all agree that the wigs and clothes they wear while performing are very difficult to dance in.
Maggie said, “They are not comfortable at all, but you get used to them. My mom actually makes dresses and sells them to other dancers to help raise money for the expense of our trips.”
The contenders have little time to rest between competitions. They are anticipating dancing in more competitions this year, including the Western Regional Oireachtas in November, All Ireland’s in February, the World Championships in April, and National’s in July.
Samantha said, “All of us dancers are truly competitors at heart. Over these ten years, Irish dance has taught me determination, endurance, and self-discipline. Those of us really serious about Irish dance will always have a full plate ahead of us.”
With the seniors beginning college in the fall, their life with Irish dance will inevitably be different. Maggie said, “My continuing dancing competitively depends on where I go to school, but I hope to keep dancing.”
Since the dancers go far and wide to compete, Irish dancing presents many unique rewards. Samantha said, “I have met some of my best friends from Irish dancing. I not only love competing, but I love traveling and meeting new people.”