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Dance Team wins Ireland championship

ASHLEY CHARNLEY | Friday, February 26, 2010

The Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame’s Irish Dance team was victorious over the weekend in their competition held in Killarney, Ireland.

The group, comprised of eight women — five from Saint Mary’s and three from Notre Dame — took first place during the All-Ireland Dance Championships, competing in the Ceili Club Competition Feb. 21. The team is coached by Deirdre Robinett, a senior at Saint Mary’s who won the 2009 World Irish Dancing Championships, and Katie Grennan, a senior at Notre Dame.

This was the group’s first time at this event, said Caitlin O’Brien, a Saint Mary’s senior on the team.

O’Brien said even though this was the team’s first time competing together at the international level, all of the girls have competed at the national level before individually.
Mary Miller, a Saint Mary’s junior on the team, said it was nice to finally come together with her former opponents to compete.

“It was just so exciting competing with all my Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame friends,” Miller said. “We all went to different dance schools and competed against each other when we were younger, and it was awesome for all of us to compete on the same team years later in Ireland.”

O’Brien said each competing team performs two choreographed dances, which are judged by a panel of five judges.

“In this particular competition, the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Ceili was the only American team and also the only college team to participate,” O’Brien said.

She said the team hoped to represent the Irish background of both the University and the College.

“Because the team is comprised of both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students, we hoped that attending the All-Ireland Dance Championships would bring further recognition to the strong Irish heritage that is prominent between the two campuses,” O’Brien said.

She said she hopes this victory will bring more attention to the club on the two campuses, like the recognition they have gained in the Irish dancing community.

“We also hoped that beginning this tradition would help to provide great recognition to a club that is very much involved with activities between the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame community,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the team wants to make the All-Ireland competition a tradition in the years to come.

“We hope that our success at the competition has laid a strong foundation for future teams to be sent on behalf of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame,” she said.

The entire dance team at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame is actually made up of more than 50 dancers, and is “one of the largest and highest quality teams in the country,” O’Brien.
The decision to participate in the competition was “made to further perpetuate the growth and improvements that the team has been experiencing since its inception in 2000,” O’Brien said.