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Interview with professional Irish dancer Owen Barrington - VIDEO

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Feis America: What is your favorite music to practice your Irish dance to?
Barrington: At the moment I really like Sean O’Brien’s new album and also Anton and Sully’s CD.

Feis America: Other than Irish dance music, what artists or groups do you like to listen to in your spare time? My iPod is literally composed of every genre of music you can think of so it really depends on my mood that determines what I’m listening to at that moment. I go by the basic principle of ‘if it sounds good, I’ll listen to it.’

Feis America: Do you have any pets?
Barrington: I myself don’t have any pets, but my family has had cats and dogs. When I was younger I had a pet Iguana. I thought he was pretty cool but my sister wasn’t really a fan.

Feis America: In all the comments you got from judges, over your competitive years, was there one or two common things that would come back-- something you needed to work on or a weakness you had to overcome to get better?
Barrington: Throughout my dance career I struggled with timing issues, but through hard work I eventually overcame that. The same was with turn out, again with lots of practice and stretching I was able to correct it.

Feis America: Do you have anything interesting in the way of cross-training that you do to stay fit or flexible for Irish dance? Any special exercises or stretches you do to prepare for a show?
Barrington: The best cross-training I’ve found for Irish dancing is Plyometrics, which is basically really fast, explosive, repetitive movements to build fast fiber twitch muscle strength. Jumping rope also help a little bit. When I was competing I would try to eat really well and drink only water, no soda or sweets. But in all honesty, the best thing to help your Irish dancing is to just dance for hours on end, there’s nothing really that replaces that. Before I do a show I just make sure I warm up until I have a little sweat dripping and then do a good 30 min stretch, nothing too special or complicated, just enough to make sure I don’t injure myself during a performance.

Owen Barrington World Champion 
Photo: Edward Barrington
Feis America: What are some of your accomplishments as far as awards from when you were still competing? Any special memories that go with any of those wins or placements?
Barrington: I have lots of wonderful memories involving my achievements in Irish dancing, but I’d have to say winning the World Irish Dancing Championships in 2008 was the most memorable. Including the Worlds, my top placements in my career were All-Ireland Irish Dancing Champion, 2-time North American National Irish Dancing Champion and 2-time Western U.S. Regional Irish Dancing Champion.

Feis America: What kinds of jobs and opportunities are there for someone who wants to be a professional Irish dancer? How did you get started?
Barrington: Nowadays, there are lots of different touring, and non-touring, Irish dance shows out there. Dancers now have both the opportunity to perform their art form and make a career out of it as well as teach the art form, which used to be the only option once you finished with competition. If a dancer is of Open Championship level and is getting a bit tired of the competition scene I would highly recommend trying to join a dance show, even if it’s just for a little while. The first set in joining is to just contact one of these shows (usually they’ll have a website) and say that you’re interested in joining. Be prepared to submit videos, pictures and possibly a resume, for they will tell you what the required materials will be in order to apply for the show.

Feis America: Thanks so very much, Owen, for answering my questions! I wish you great success in all of your goals and future endeavors. We hope to see you on stage for ourselves sometime soon.

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