“March Madness” – An Irish Dancer’s Perspective

From Show Season To World Championships

March 2019 is particularly busy for students at the Teelin School of Irish Dance, based in Columbia, Maryland. The month begins by featuring the Teelin Irish Dance Company (an elite subset of Teelin School dancers), alongside professional Irish musicians and dancers, in the performance of Celtic Storm at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick on March 2, followed by two shows at the Carroll County Arts Center on March 9. The entire school community joins in the fun on Sunday, March 10 for the Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and then again on Saturday, March 16 for the Gaithersburg St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Teelin performance teams will be seen all over central Maryland throughout the St. Patrick’s Day season at a variety of events, big and small, culminating with the annual Teelin Spring Show, featuring all Teelin School students, on March 30 at the Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia. But that’s not all – this March Madness is just the beginning!

The World Irish Dancing Championships will be held in Greensboro, NC, April 14-21, 2019. This is only the fourth time in its 49-year history that the World Championships, typically held in Ireland, will be held in North America. Teelin dancers have been training diligently for a chance to qualify for this prestigious competition, especially while the event is within reasonable travel distance. Teelin School will proudly be presenting nine champion soloists, two traditional ceili teams each comprised of eight dancers, and a choreography team comprised of sixteen dancers at these World Championships.

“This is my favorite time of the year!” boasts Maureen Berry, TCRG, Owner/Director of Teelin School. “Sure, we’re very busy, but we’re doing what we love to do.”

Kathleen Young, TCRG, Co-Owner/Business Manager adds, “An Irish dance school is not your typical dance studio. This is a niche activity, and students either love it, or they soon realize that it’s not their thing. Because of that, we are fortunate to have a close-knit community of dancers and families who share a common interest in their passion for Irish dance, Irish music, and Irish culture.” The Teelin School of Irish Dance is comprised of approximately 275 students hailing from seven Maryland counties and the District of Columbia, with highest caliber teaching staff, including Whitney Hanson, TCRG, Caitlin Kriner, TCRG, and Erin Duffy Martorano, TCRG.

Training at Teelin School focuses on a solid foundation in traditional Irish step dancing, with the opportunity to explore challenging choreography developed with innovative style. Participation in competitions is optional, and students may independently decide the extent to which they are willing to train. Competing at a championship level requires significant time commitment, with many top champions training upwards of 20 hours weekly. Separate and apart from competitions, a subset of advanced level students from the Teelin School also choose to audition for the Teelin Irish Dance Company, which is an elite team of approximately 45 dancers who stage performances, big and small, throughout central Maryland on a regular basis. Information about upcoming performances may be found online at teelin.com/TIDC.

Irish dance competitions are governed by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (Irish for “The Irish Dancing Commission” based in Dublin, Ireland). The World Irish Dancing Championships are akin to the Olympics of Irish dancing. Approximately 5000 competitors from around the globe will participate in this year’s championships in Greensboro, and are only open to eligible dancers who have qualified by placing in the highest percentage of their regional or national championships earlier in the season. Among the contenders representing Teelin School in their respective age groups for solo championships will be nine of Teelin’s Open Champions, ranging in age from 11 to 20 years old.

In the team competitions, Teelin School’s entry for the Senior Ladies Figure Choreography Championship includes 16 champion level dancers ranging in age from 15 years old to mid-20’s; Teelin School’s entry for the Minor Girls Ceili includes 8 champion level dancers ranging in age from 11 to 13 years old; and Teelin School’s entry for the Sub-Minor Girls Ceili includes 8 champion level dancers ranging in age from 8 to 11 years old.

Results from the upcoming World Championships will be celebrated on social media accounts for @TeelinIrishDance.

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The Teelin Irish Dance Company is performing in more than a dozen different locations throughout the month of March, and their performance schedule may be found at https://teelin.com/TIDC/performance-schedule/.