Homegrown dancers take on the world


THIS year’s World Irish Dancing Championships saw a number of Scottish successes once again, with Sharon Taylor’s Irish Dance Academy leading the way.

The championships, which were held last month in the Koury Convention Centre in Greensboro, North Carolina in the USA, saw a number of Scottish dancers make the trip to test themselves against the world’s best Irish dancers.

Declan McLaughlin (above) continued his consistently high performances representing the Sharon Taylor Academy by taking third place in the Under-20 Men’s category, Kathleen Maria Collins took fourth spot in the Under-15 Girls’ competition, Patrick McKenna placed fifth in the Under-21 Men’s competition, while Amy Frances Chestnutt finished 15th in the Senior Ladies’ category.

A new system was used at this year’s event, which was an additional challenge that the dancers had to face, but one which Sharon says they coped with admirably.

“The CLRG World Championships is the highest ranked competition in the world of Irish dancing,” she said. “Dancers first have to qualify in their region to be able to enter the championships. They used a new system this year at worlds where each age group danced their two dances on one day, split into two sections, A and B, with more than 100 dancers in each split in some age groups. Then a percentage from each split was brought back to the second day of competitions, combined together there they danced their two dances again. A further recall was then taken from this group where a small percentage were brought back to dance a fifth round. Whilst this was tiring for the dancers involved, they had been preparing hard for this all year with intense training. It definitely made the standard of dancing out of this world.

“Amy fought back from a few injuries to gain a world medal again this year in the Senior Ladies’ competition. Kathleen gained another podium win placing fourth in a fabulous Under-15 Ladies’ category, with some adjudicators placing her first overall. Patrick once again brought home his second top five globe, placing fifth in the Under-21 Men’s competition—another close contest with minimal points between the top men. Declan placed an amazing third in the Under-20 Men’s category, again with lots of the adjudicators placing him first overall. It was another very close call between the top three men.

“Our dancers achieved amazing results competing with the best of the best in the world of Irish dancing. Laura Davidson also placed 15th overall in a double age group 21-23 and Roisin McLaughlin placed 24th in the Under-20 Ladies’ competition. I’m so proud of the dancers and their wonderful representation of Irish dancing in Scotland.”

Sharon’s dancers weren’t the only ones who tasted success across the pond however, as another notable success came from Jodi Millar from the Rinceoirí le Chéile School of Irish Dancing, who finished sixth in the Under-19 Ladies competition, much to the delight of one of her teachers, Owen McAuley.

“We are very proud teachers,” he said. “As well as Jodi’s success, Caitlin Craig from our school who finished 28th in the Under-20 Ladies’ category. We’re amazed by just how consistent these girls are, but it’s very much down to the hard work that they put in, both in class and in their own time.”

This was only the third time that the championships have been hosted in the US in the event’s 49-year old history. The event attracted some 5000 male and female dancers from more than 27 countries. Next year’s championships—which will mark their 50th anniversary—will take place in Dublin.