McGrath Academy of Irish Dance Drama Team Wins Top Spot in North America

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Provided by McGrath Academy of Irish Dance

The McGrath Academy of Irish Dance drama team took first place at the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America (IDTANA) North American Irish Dance Championships held in Orlando over the Independence Day holiday. This win qualified the team to represent North America at the 2019 World Irish Dancing Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Additionally, six dancers qualified to compete in solo dance competitions at the world championships this spring.

Twenty dancers, ranging in age from 8 to 24, performed “Banshee in the Bedroom,” which was choreographed by John Lawrence Morgan, TCRG. This is the third time Morgan has choreographed the dance drama, which has won international acclaim, winning the world championship in 2012 in Belfast and 2014 in London. The story and drama were inspired by a range of traditional Irish folk lore, as well as the poetry of the poet WB Yeats and other contemporary musicals, including one of Morgan’s own personal favorites, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“I am so proud of our award-winning dance drama,” said Morgan. “Taking 20 dancers with no dance drama experience and watching them grow and mature has been so exciting and rewarding! I am beyond proud of what has become a world-class team! Drama is a way for our students to grow in confidence, develop their stage presence, and further improve their technique and stamina.”

McGrath competed in dance drama for the first time in the 2017-18 dance season. Dance drama is only performed at major Irish dance competitions. Teams, composed of eight to 20 dancers, portray a specifically Irish historical or traditional story or event. They are not allowed to speak, although a narrator is permitted to read the story before the six-minute performance.

“I knew our dancers could be successful with this performance,” said Lauren McGrath Dutton, ADCRG, TCRG. “I am happy we added dance drama as an additional class for our students. I’m proud of our team—all of the hard work they put in during the past year really paid off. They should all feel very proud of themselves.”

In addition to the first-place in dance drama, six dancers placed high enough to qualify to compete at the world competition. They are:

  • Aisling Reynolds, 5th place, girls under 10
  • Aine Callahan, 13th place, girls under 10
  • Jessie Welgos, 5th place, girls under 12
  • Claire Wolstenholme, 13th place, girls under 13
  • Soph Rankin, 20th, girls under 15
  • Aerin Raguso, 12th, ladies 22 and older

“Each year our dancers come away more successful than the last,” said Ariel Raguso, TCRG. “The titles and qualifications are so well deserved, but so is the feeling when the kids walk off stage and know they nailed it! That’s what we instill in every dancer to strive for, from first timers to the top veterans! All that matters is that they dance their best!”


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