At Sacred Heart many girls do after school activities. One interesting activity is Irish step dancing. I had the chance to interview three Irish dancers in the seventh grade, Katherine Devine, Gigi Pascal and Amy Maher.
When did you start Irish step dancing?
Gigi P: I have been dancing since I was four.
Katherine D: I started Irish dancing when I was eight.
Amy M: I started dance when I was six or seven.
Where do you take lessons?
Gigi P: I dance at the Harney Pender Keady Academy four or five times a week, for one to two and a half hours at a time.
Katherine D: I take lessons at the Harney Pender Keady Academy also.
Amy M: I dance at the same place.
Do you compete? If so, what are competitions like?
Gigi P: I compete often because the more I compete the more practice I get. Katherine and Amy are in different competitions than I am because they are older than me, so I don’t compete with them.
Katherine D: I compete every other weekend. The competitions are called feises. At competitions we have to wear an Irish dance dress and a wig. Some people just wear their hair half up and half down. Participants dance two or three times at each competition. There are three judges who grade each dancer individually. At the end, there are awards and contestants get a score sheet with the judges’ comments.
What is your favorite part about Irish step dancing?
Gigi P: My favorite part is the many friends I make. Everyone is so nice.
Katherine D: My favorite part about Irish dancing is also the many friends I make. Dancing pushes me to work hard. I like how rewarding it feels when I do well in a competition.
What is your least favorite part about Irish step dancing?
Katherine D: My least favorite part about it is that it is very time consuming. To be a good Irish dancer, a student has to be committed to taking lessons and practicing. This usually means missing out on other fun activities outside of dance.
Where have you travelled since becoming an Irish step dancer?
Gigi P: The furthest I have ever traveled for dance is to Florida. In April, this year I will go to Ireland for the first time to participate in the world competition.
Katherine D: I haven’t traveled very far for Irish dance. The furthest I have gone is to Philadelphia and Rhode Island. Some Irish step dancers go to places like Florida and Canada. One of the big events coming up, is the World Irish Dancing Championship. This year it will be held in Ireland.
What is the highest level at which you have competed?
Katherine D: The highest competition that I have been to is Nationals. The scale goes, from the lowest to the highest, Feises, Oireachtas, Nationals, World. There are also a couple of other competitions that I have not listed, such as All Irelands.
Do you have any hopes/dreams for your future in Irish step dancing?
Katherine D: My hope for my Irish step dancing is to reach the highest level, which is called Open. I would also like to go to the world championship.
Do you have any advice for new Irish step dancers?
Katherine D: If I had to give advice to new dancers, I would say, “don’t give up.” At the first couple of competitions a new dancer might not get an award. Dancers just have to come back next time with a positive attitude. Another aspect of Irish dancing is that it’s a lot of work. Dancers have to battle through it and stay strong. Irish dancing is tiring, but at the end of the day it’s about the dancer who can maintain her stamina. Good luck to Gigi at Worlds!