Mixed under 13 team from the Mattierin School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at the North American Irish Dance Championships 2009

For IrishCentral's full coverage of this year's North American Irish Dance Champs, CLICK HERE

Canadians are everywhere at Nashville for the North American Irish Dance Championships.

Between the solo dancers, the groups, the adult dancers and youngsters - a huge proportion of them come from America's northern neighbor.

Irish step-dance is flourishing in Canada. Gloria Brady, a teacher at the Brady Academy in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, says that this is quite a new development.
 
In the early 80s, she says, there were no North American championships (the first one was held in New Jersey in 1981).
 
Instead, Brady and her family would go straight from Canada to the Worlds in Ireland. “I was the first western Canadian girl to recall and place at the worlds,” says Brady. “And my brother was the first boy.”
 
“We were the no-name kids,” she continues, “but we did well.”
 
They can't have been no-name for long. For the next six years, Brady placed in the top 10 Irish dancers in the world. 
 
Many feiseanna now have their home in Canada, and in 2007 the North American Championships were held in Ottawa.
 
The gradual growth of Canadian Irish dancing is due, Brady says, to emigration. She was born in Dublin, Ireland, and her family came over in the 60s. Her father was a plumber.
 
“In Western Canada and Toronto there was plenty of work at that time. So there’s a huge Irish community in Toronto; and a huge one in Newfoundland."
 
Brady’s parents returned to Ireland briefly, before deciding two years later, that Canada was their home – and bringing their family of seven children with them.
 
Irish dancers often say that they value the cultural links it gives them to Ireland, but for Gloria Brady, dancing helped forge a real practical connection to her place of birth.
 
Her parents would never have returned regularly to Ireland if it weren’t for dancing. When she and her brother made the Worlds, they would always go along with them to Ireland.
 
“The Irish dancing was awesome because we got over to Ireland every year,” Brady explains. “And mom and dad got to go back with us.”