“I was just graduating from college at the time and finding the space, time and discipline to practice was difficult. But I made a promise to myself that I would not retire from competitive dancing until I claimed that title, and I did it,” Maggie said. “I think by that time, after competing for so many years, I knew that dancing was something that I genuinely loved to do, and when you love to do something that much, you perform better.”
Not long after her success at the North American Championship, Maggie retired from competitive dance, but found she was not quite ready to hang up her shoes. “You realize that it’s a part of who you are. I think that’s what really started my thinking about going professional.”
After graduating from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maggie went to England to begin rehearsals for Michael Flatley’s production "Celtic Tiger," inspired by the economic boom in Ireland.
Touring with the show brought Maggie to unfamiliar places, performing everywhere from Budapest to London and also reunited her with some familiar faces. The cast included dancers from all over the world whom Maggie had encountered in various competitions early in her career. With the new adventure of touring and the competitive heat behind them, the cast was able to bond and form a family.
“I like the fact that I am now good friends with so many dancers that I used to watch in competition,” Maggie said.
After a successful run with "Celtic Tiger," Maggie joined the touring troupe for "Lord of the Dance."
“I first started dancing with 'Lord of the Dance' two years ago and I made it a career goal to audition for lead. I did not stop smiling during the audition, which I think helped me a lot.”
Surpassing the goal of just auditioning, Maggie landed the coveted part of Saoirse. She shares the role with three other dancers, Tracey Smith McCarron, Siobhan Connolly and Louise Hayden, and plays opposite the male lead, a role played rotationally by Ciaran Connolly, Jason Gorman and Don McCarron.
Newest to the role of Saoirse, Maggie will dance primarily in matinee performances in the upcoming North American tour.
“It was a dream come true, cheesy as it may sound. I worked really hard leading up to the audition, and my cast mates were so helpful and supportive throughout the whole process.”
Adjusting to the Michael Flatley Irish dance style
While competitive Irish step-dancing involves its fair share of theatrics, bouncy wigs and intricate costumes included, Flatley’s shows utilize an entirely new style, unnatural at first for most competitive dancers.
“For a long time my dance captains had to remind me to loosen up and perform for the audience more. It took me a while to get used to moving my arms and my upper body while dancing, something which traditional Irish dancing forbids.”
After years of posture training and frozen arms, the dancers in "Lord of the Dance" have to embrace a new skill of maintaining their lightning-fast footwork and high leaps with upper body choreography. “I like to think I am better at it now, but there is always room for improvement," Maggie said.
“I was on cloud nine the whole day of the first performance. I love the music I danced my solos to, I love the costumes I got to wear, and I love the other lead performers that I danced with. It is truly a blessing to be able to say that I reached the epitome of an Irish dancing career. My mother still looks at the pictures from that first performance every day.”
Performing as Saoirse for the first time on the European leg of her troupe’s tour, Maggie was unable to share that experience with her family back in the States. She looks forward to her upcoming North American tour which will provide her the opportunity to perform throughout the U.S. this spring.
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