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Pair of Irish dancers perform at restaurant

Emily Lavelle | Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Saint Mary’s juniors Erinn Kotelnicki and Jessi Crogan reeled and slip jigged their way to applause and cheers Thursday night at Fiddler’s Hearth.

Kotelnicki and Crogan, who are both seasoned Irish step dancers, were invited to perform at the Half St. Patrick’s Day Festival. The girls danced to live music provided by the Irish band, Teada, whose members said the dancing was some of the best they had ever seen. “The girls were both top class. They were light on their feet and they had great timing,” said Tristan Rosenstock, who plays the bodhran for the band.

Kotelnicki and Crogan performed four different types of Irish step dances, including the reel, slip jig, tap reel and two hand reel. Kotelnicki said these dances are some of her favorites.

“It’s exhilarating to be doing something so difficult and at the same time feeling like you’ve nailed it in the midst of your performance,” she said.

Crogan agreed, saying, “It’s a lot harder than it looks. Doing one set of dances is equivalent to running 400 meters. But it gives you a rush, especially when you’re in front of a crowd.”

The crowd included Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students as well as patrons from the South Bend community.

Linda and Joe Kozlowski, who regularly attend events at Fiddler’s Hearth, were impressed with the dancing.

“It gets the crowd more involved and is a really enjoyable experience,” Linda Kozlowski said. “I would definitely come back to see the girls dance.”

It is no surprise that the girls are able to impress the crowds since they have both been dancing from an early age.

“I’ve been dancing since I was four,” Kotelnicki said. “My mom was an Irish dancer, and I’m carrying on the tradition.”

Crogan, who also began at age four, fell in love with Irish dancing in a different way.

“I don’t know why I started dancing,” Crogan said. “I remember my dad asked me if I wanted to do it, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ After I started I just fell in love with it and haven’t stopped.”

Growing up, both girls danced in competitions that took them across the country and even to Ireland several times for the World Championships. Although neither dances competitively now, they both enjoy events like the Half St. Patrick’s Day festival.

“It’s such a fun thing to do, and I was so excited that we were invited to dance,” Crogan said. “I would love to come back and do it again.”