West senior competes in world Irish dance competition

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West senior competes in world Irish dance competition

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From football to chess club, Glenbard West offers almost every activity that any student could imagine—except Irish dancing.

Maura Doyle, Glenbard West senior, has been participating in this traditional sport for almost 15 years. At only two years old, she was hooked. As she watched the Irish dancers in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade her eyes were glued to the TV screen and she instantly told her mom that she wanted to “dance just like those girls.” A year later, Maura’s career took off.

For the first eight years, Maura poured her blood, sweat, and tears into learning the fundamentals of the sport at the World Academy School of Irish Dance. It was there that she was first exposed to the unparalleled traditions of Irish dancing that date back to the eighteenth century. According to Maura, “Mothers required their children to dance in their ‘Sunday best’ outfits, meaning girls had to curl their hair. But due to so many girls complaining about the pain of wearing rollers at night, the idea was brought up to wear wigs instead.” Along with wearing curly wigs, Irish dancers would not be complete without the rest of their ensemble: a beautiful competition dress, spray-tanned legs, and makeup.  While Maura recognizes that these aspects of Irish dancing often bewilder people, she would not trade the customs for anything.

At age eleven, Maura transitioned to her current studio, the Lavin-Cassidy School of Irish Dance, a decision she couldn’t be happier with. It was at this school that she got the opportunity to travel to Killarney, Ireland to compete in the 2019 All-Ireland Championships. Impressively placing 42nd out of 180 dancers, Maura was “filled with a combination of nerves and excitement” as she “had never danced in Ireland before and put pressure on [herself] to perform well.”

To begin the competition day, two rounds commenced—one in hard shoes (similar to tap shoes) and the other in soft shoes (similar to ballet slippers). After those rounds, the top 50 dancers were recalled to dance in the third and final round, Maura qualifying for that round. She notes that the “competition was tough, and even though [she] was really happy with [her] performance, anything could have happened with the end result.” Maura’s talent earned her an amazing placement.

As for Maura’s future in Irish dancing, she definitely wants to continue to pursue her passion in college. She plans to attend a university with an Irish dance team, as she would never want her hours of hard work to go to waste. While Maura will be the first to admit that long, hard practices can be exhausting, she also says that days “spent in front of the studio mirror for hours on end can make you capable of achieving things you never thought were possible.”

Looking further into the future, Maura would love to experience performing in a traveling show such as Riverdance. As her whole Irish dance career has been spent at the competition level, she seeks the chance to eventually transition into the performance level. If that plan doesn’t work, Maura may take her talents to teaching dance, which she already helps with at her studio. Wherever she ends up, Maura will be wildly successful.

Congratulations on your dedication to such a unique sport Maura. Your hard work has paid off and Glenbard West can’t wait to see where Irish dancing takes you!

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