First-time regional Irish dance champions - PHOTOS


2011 New England Regional Irish Dancing Champion
Girls under 9 Jillian Collins (pink) hugs Brigitte Reid.
Photo by Dana Sulger

There may be nothing so exciting than watching a brand new regional Irish dancing champion realize that he or she is the last one standing during awards.  Those emotional moments before the dancer receives the championship sash and climbs to the coveted top spot on the podium are priceless!  Captured by professional event photographers and hundreds of amateurs clicking away, the images serve to remind us of the joy that comes with hard work and the love of Irish dance.

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Ellie King, Girls under 11
2011 Southern Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo: Shamrock Photo


Charlotte Sulger, Girls under 9
2011 New England Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo: Dana Sulger.

For all regional championships in North America, the Top Ten are usually introduced at the beginning of each group's awards.  Ten competitor numbers are called on-stage, and the excitement mounts to know how the ten placements will fall.  Then, the Top Ten move to the back or side of the stage while awards are presented to the top 50% of the dancers in each competition, in reverse order.  As the placements get closer to the top performers, those who have qualified for the North American National Irish Dancing Championships are called out as well.  Finally, the Top Ten return to the front of the stage.  Heads are bowed, and a view from behind would often show rivals holding hands while waiting results. 

Hattie Rose Hare, Girls under 10
2011 Southern Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo: Shamrock Photo
For all but the youngest age groups, these dancers have also qualified for the World Irish Dancing Championships.  The emcee calls out, "In Tenth Place..." and the competitor number, full name and dance school are announced to great applause.  One by one, the placements are taken until the Top Five are left.

Alexis Farnsworth, Girls under 11
2011 Western United States Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo courtesy Acadamh Rince.
Eric Crone, Boys under 9
2011 Western United States Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo courtesy Tir Conaill (Arizona).

Sisters Deirdre and Maeve Smith, Girls under 12 and under 8
2011 Western United States Regional Irish Dancing Champions.
Photo courtesy Olivia Griffin.

There are usually great embraces and stoic handshakes among the finalists between announcements and the group left standing grows closer together and smaller still, some dearest friends and dance classmates. Occasionally a finalist is seen checking his or her competitor number to make sure it wasn't yet called... and then, there is the moment when the Second Place winner is announced and the crowd goes wild as the new or defending regional champion is announced.  The dancer's teachers approach the podium and it is remarkable in all the excitement that they make a point of shaking the hands of the other top dancers before moving to the center to congratulate their champion.

Martin Bradshaw, Boys under 15
2011 New England Regional Irish Dancing Champion.
Photo: Photography by Harrington

It's a Tie! Boys under 8 Co-Champions Peter Mildrew and Davin Poe
2011 Southern Regional Irish Dancing Champs.
Photo: Shamrock Photo

These celebratory moments are the impetus behind some of our favorite photographers' best work.  Special thanks to official event photographers Tom Gregory of Shamrock Photo and Scott Harrington for sharing their images with us.  Visit their sites to purchase and enjoy!