Provided by McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance
Dancers from the McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance won three first place awards at the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America (IDTANA) Southern Region Oireachtas. The competition was held at National Harbor the first week of December. The dancers’ awards were in the categories of girls under age 11 and 16, and dance drama.
Of the 38 McGrath Morgan solo dancers, 35 placed in the top half of their competitions. Sixteen dancers qualified to compete at the 50th annual World Championships, which will be held this spring in Dublin. In addition to the world qualifiers, another 10 dancers qualified to compete at the national championships this summer in Nashville. The dance drama team will also travel to Dublin to defend the world championship title they won last year.
“That’s better than 90 percent recall rate for solo dancers, which is fantastic,” said school founder Lauren McGrath Dutton, ADCRG. “But what’s even more impressive is that our relatively small school brought home three first-place perpetual trophies.”
Eleven-year-old Aisling Reynolds, daughter of Mike and Christine Reynolds of Manassas, defeated 99 dancers to claim her spot at the top of the podium … for the second year in a row.
“I prayed that I would win Oireachtas and I did!” she said.
Reynolds began dancing with Dutton when she was 6 years old.
“From the very beginning, I knew she had the talent, commitment and determination to win,” said Dutton. “She won the Oireachtas last year, then went on to place fifth at the world championship. I can’t wait to see her dance on the world stage again this spring. I know she is going to work hard to put forth a highly competitive performance in Dublin.”
Sixteen-year-old Sophia Rankin, daughter of Chris Rankin and Jennifer Reed of Cabin John, Maryland, out-danced 118 dancers, putting her in first place for the second year in a row.
“I am so proud of Soph for defending her title,” said Dutton. “She worked exceptionally hard this year to make sure she was again at the top of the podium. I could not be happier with her results.”
The dance drama team, composed of 20 dancers ranging in age from 8 to 18, defended their regional, national and world titles, capturing first place with their rendition of “The Belle of Belfast City,” a story and drama choreographed by John Lawrence Morgan, TCRG.
“There was a lot of pressure for this team, which won the world title in spring, to deliver a new, yet equally compelling, production,” said Morgan. “But they did! I am so proud of their performance and the commitment of 20 dancers to work hard, learn new choreography, and reclaim their regional title.”
Dance drama is only performed at major Irish dance competitions. Teams portray an Irish historical or traditional story or event. Performers are not allowed to speak, although a narrator is permitted to read the story before the six-minute performance.
Dancers who qualified for world championships
These 16 McGrath Morgan dancers qualified to compete in the world championships:
- Libby August
- Annabelle Baker
- Charlotte Cain
- Liam Darnell
- Shawn Dongieux
- Julia Foster
- Mary Kathleen Gareau
- Paddy Gareau
- Molly Mostow
- Molly Murphy
- Sophia Rankin
- Aisling Reynolds
- Reilly Savage
- Camille Shepherd
- Jessie Welgos
- Claire Wolstenholme
Dancers who qualified to compete at North American championships
In addition to the world qualifiers, these 10 dancers also qualified to compete at the North American championships this summer:
- Maya Abdrashitova
- Madeline Crouse
- Julia Dunn
- Morgan Flaherty
- Madeline Fontana
- Lily Garretson
- Nicoletta Gareau
- Mara Riordan
- Sophia Savage
- Anna Weaver
The Oireachtas (pronounced Uh-ROCK-tus) is a regional championship where Irish dancers compete to qualify for national and world championships. The southern region, of which McGrath Morgan is a member, includes Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Mexico. Nearly 2,000 dancers competed at the event.