Interview with professional Irish dancer Owen Barrington - VIDEO


Owen Barrington  
Photo: Levi Nilsson of Apogee Studios in Anchorage, AK
Owen Barrington is currently on tour with Michael Londra's Beyond Celtic in New York. he took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about being a professional Irish dancer, how he got there, his competitive years, and some info about who he is.

Feis America: How old are you now, and when did you start Irish dance?
Barrington: I just turned 27 years old and I started my Irish dancing adventure at the relatively late age of 12. I didn’t compete at my first feis though until I was 15 because I was learning to dance in my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska and we did not have a certified instructor for several years.

Feis America: Do you think starting later, as an older kid, gave you an advantage or disadvantage in competitive Irish dance?
Barrington: Generally, I feel that if I had started earlier in Irish dance it probably would have been more of an advantage. But for my circumstances at the time, I was a bit more mature and focused and it was only about 3 years before I started competing, so if I had been dancing a lot longer before getting to compete I might have burned out early. Now I look back and see that things happened the way they were meant to in order for me to have accomplished what I have in dance. My message to the rest of the male Irish dance community is it’s generally better to started earlier, but really it all depends on how focus your are and how much you want to commit to dancing that will determine how far you will go.

Feis America: What Irish dance school or schools have you trained with?
Barrington: When I first started dancing, my dance school was called the Irish Dance Academy of Alaska (formally the Keegan-Dance School of Irish Dance). At the time it was non-competitive, but in the year 2000 we hired Tony Comerford to fly up regularly and teach so we could finally attend feisanna. I danced for the Tony Comerford School from then until the end of my competitive career in 2008.

Video interview with Owen in 2007- fabulous footwork:

Feis America: When you started Irish dancing, did you know you'd want to be a professional Irish dancer someday?
Barrington: When I started Irish dancing it was the shows like “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” that kept me interested in Irish dance. I definitely had the goal of being able to dance at the level of the dancers in the videos but I never really thought about someday joining one of them. Once I started competing, that became my passion because it gave me a rush that performing never did. I still love performing for live audiences but there’s nothing in the world like competitions.

Feis America: Have you thought about taking the exams to be a TCRG (aka certified teacher with An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha)?
Barrington: I actually just recently took and passed my TCRG examination. Gaining my TCRG has always been a goal of mine because I love teaching and passing along this great tradition of dance that I find so character building and life enriching. Eventually I would like to try for my ADCRG (aka certified adjudicator with An Comisiun le Rince Gaelacha) for the exact same reasons.

2005 Riverdance photo
Nicholas Yenson, Owen, Scott Doherty, and Kevin Horton
Feis America: In what shows have you performed?
Barrington: The first big professional show I ever danced in was Riverdance, and it will always be a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I’m still fortunate to be on their “Flying Squad” so I still get to dance with them from time-to-time. Some other show’s I have been with are Emerald Beat, Battle of the Dance, Eileen Ivers, the Chieftains, Celtic Fire, and I am currently the lead dancer in Michael Londra’s Beyond Celtic, which was aired recently as a PBS special.