adidas originals tech super Local Irish dancers headed to world championships in spring

adidas climacool ride Local Irish dancers headed to world championships in spring

Look out Riverdance, Windsor just might be your new competition. A record number of local Irish dancers are headed to the world championships in a matter of months.

Fourteen students from the Windsor branch of the Emerald Isle Irish Dance Society will head to Boston in April to show the rest of the world their best hard shoe and soft shoe ceilis and set dances.

It will be Zachary’s first time competing at the world championships and his younger sister Joely Bernier, 11, will be there for the first time, too. Both of them placed first at the regional championships in Montreal earlier this year, earning them a spot at the worlds.

While most kids enjoyed some holiday down time, these dancers, who range in age from 11 to 20 years old, were spending extra time in the studio perfecting their moves.

“It takes up everything,” Zachary said, tallying up the number of hours he spends in the dance studio each week (he estimates 12 hours total). But he is determined to do well at the worlds. He’s been competing for about three years.

“I really like soft shoe because I fly around the stage and I find it really fun,” he said, describing the style that uses a soft soled shoe with a hard heel that’s used to make clicks. This is different from the hard shoe style, which uses shoes with fiberglass soles and heels to make loud tapping sounds in the dance.

His sister Joely suspects her forte is soft shoe. She’s not quite sure why, she said, but in other competitions, she’s always received good marks in it.

If there’s one thing the Emerald Isle group is known for, it’s presentation.

“Our kids always look great and very well put together,” said Sara Johnston Rye, their teacher. (The school also has a branch in Oakville, Ont., and students from there will also be competing in Boston.)

Irish dancing like a lot of folk dancing sounds and looks like fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work for the competitive set. Johnston said her students are usually in the studio three or four nights a week dancing and they also spend extra time doing fitness training.

Even the younger kids do cardio training and lots of situps so their form is perfect and they keep up the pace of the music. It takes a lot of cardiovascular endurance to stay up on your toes for the length of a dance,
adidas originals tech super Local Irish dancers headed to world championships in spring
Johnston Rye said.

Irish dance is characterized by very rapid feet and leg movements while the upper body remains mostly still and the arms are kept down. Competitive Irish dance is for the most part a solo art form.

“We do put a lot of emphasis on fitness so they’re able to handle the material we give them,” said Johnston Rye, who started teaching 12 years ago after spending years as a competitive Irish dancer.

Despite the hard work and little time for other hobbies, the Berniers love Irish dancing.

“I just love the rhythm, the stage and just dancing,” Zachary said.

The world championships are rarely held outside the United Kingdom or Ireland, so hosting the competition in Boston will make it easier for more North American dancers to participate.

“We just have to dance our best,” Zachary said. “We’re all really talented dancers.”Irish Dancers David Branton, left, Claire Chernowski, Mary Sheffic, Morgan Fontaine, Breanna Behring, Colleen Chernowski, Zach Bernier, Nicolette Fraser and Breagh MacNiel have qualified for the world championships. epaper, Digital Access, Subscriber Rewards), please input your Print Newspaper subscription phone number and postal code.

{ addressPostalCode }

By clicking “Create Account”, I hearby grant permission to Market to use my account information to create my account.

I also accept and agree to be bound by Postmedia’s Terms and Conditions with respect to my use of the Site and I have read and understand Postmedia’s Privacy Statement. epaper, Digital Access, Subscriber Rewards), please input your Print Newspaper subscription phone number and postal code.
adidas originals tech super Local Irish dancers headed to world championships in spring