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Ceili dance team wins championship

Katie McCarty | Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s ceili team stepped on stage to compete with Irish step dancers from all over the world at the All-Ireland Championsips in Belfast last week.

Senior coach Connor Reider said the team performed their final dance, called the Cross Reel, flawlessly.

“It was beautiful because it was more than just a dance,” Reider said. “It was our hard work, our coordination, all the fun we had at the practices and performances. It was all worth it, and it was perfect.”

Reider said the team performed their second dance in the set, called, “Trip to the Cottage,” earlier that day. Their exceptional performance in both numbers won them the All-Ireland Championships for the third consecutive year, he said. The competition features teams from across the world.

“There was such a sense of pride because you achieved something for your school,” Reider said. “It was special bringing Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to the world.”

Senior and co-president of the ceili team Kelly McGovern said eight Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students from the Irish Dance Club traveled together to Belfast, Ireland after nine months of preparation for the competition.

McGovern said competition day was one of the best days of her life.

“We were all doing each other’s hair and taking pictures,” McGovern said. “When we went to the venue, they were running way ahead of schedule and it ended up being kind of rushed. We didn’t have time to get stressed, and then we just went on and danced. The way we danced, no one was worried, and everyone was just like, ‘Let’s show them what we can do.'”

“Everything just worked. We hit every line. It was my last competition ever and it was so great. It’s always better with your friends,” McGovern said.

Reider said the friendships among the team members were integral to their success.

“It was so rewarding because out of it we all got nine new friends. Nine friendships were solidified,” Reider said. “I was up in the balcony watching [the second dance], and six of the girls are seniors and this was going to be the last time on the stage competing, The first number was great, but as they were dancing this second number, I teared up.”

Sophomore Katy Wahl said the moment the team discovered they won was “joyous.”

“We had done it together and we accomplished what we set out to do,” Wahl said. “Winning with new nine brand new friends who had never danced with each other was awesome.”

Tara Macleod, associate teaching professor in the department of Irish Language and Literature and faculty advisor to the club, traveled with the ceili team to Belfast. She said the team’s focus on competition helped them acheive success.

“They went to compete. They were extremely focused,” Macleod said. “They were wonderful ambassadors for the University. It was obvious on stage the long days and nights paid off.

“I was a bundle of nerves when they were dancing,” Macleod said. “As soon as it was over, I felt that I saw something special. It was electrifying. I only met the team the Sunday before they left, but it was obvious at that point that they were such a team. I’ve never seen such cohesiveness. They all support one another and it was quite impressive to watch.”

Senior Grace Deardruff said the ceili team held tryouts last February that included dancing in front of a panel of four judges, who evaluated each dancer’s stamina and ability to dance in a group.

“Usually the team is very laid back, and then suddenly the ‘Irish dance competitive’ side comes out in people and it’s very intense,” Deardruff said. “I was very honored to make the cut because everyone really wanted it. Hearing I was going [to Ireland] was one of the happiest moments of second semester last year.”

Contact Katie McCarty at kmccar16@nd.edu.