Two North American Irish dancers were deemed champions today in solo competitions at the All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championships. A total of ten young ladies and six young men claimed esteemed placements in the Girls 16-17, Boys 16-17 and Men 17-18 events at the CityWest Hotel in South Dublin.
Drew Lovejoy from the McGing School of Irish Dance in Ohio successfully defended his title for the second year in a row as the All-Ireland Irish Dancing Champion for Boys 16-17. Topping the podium in 2009 for Boys 14-15 and 2010 for Boys 15-16, there are surely those who wish Drew's brilliant performance on stage was as contagious as his wonderful smile! Notably, Lovejoy continues to set records as the first bi-racial Irish dancer to top the All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championships podium for three consecutive years.
Sarah Oldam from the Peter Smith School in New York clinched the 2012 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship for Girls 16-17 today, winning by a mere five points over second place Niamh O'Brien from Anthony Costello in Ireland. Oldam placed second at both the 2011 All-Ireland and World Irish Dancing Championships after Champion Michaela Hinds from Butler-Fearon-O'Connor in Eastern Canada. In 2010, Niamh O'Brien won the All-Irelands and Oldam took 3rd place; at the Worlds that year, the friendly rivals were neck-in-neck on the podium with Hinds in first place, O'Brien in third and Oldam in fourth.
Canada's Hinds did not compete at All-Irelands in 2010 or 2012.
In the Boys 16-17 event, Tayler Nunes from the Harney Academy of Irish Dance in Massachusetts placed 7th. Nunes is also the 2011 New England Regional Irish Dancing Champion for Boys under 15. Aidan McPherson from Mattierin School of Irish Dance in Western Canada finished in 9th place. McPherson is the 2011 Western Canada Regional Irish Dancing Champion for Boys under 15.
In the Men 17-18 event, Fred Nguyen from Scoil Rince de Danaan in Western Canada placed 3rd and Brian Perry-Carrera from Butler-Fearon-O'Connor Western U.S. placed 4th. Ryan Thornton from the Broesler School of Irish Dance in Maryland and New Jersey placed 6th. Nguyen is the 2011 Western Canadian Regional Irish Dancing Champion for Boys under 17 while Perry-Carrera and Thornton each hold 2nd place in the 2011 Boys under 17 regional championships in the Western U.S. and Mid-Atlantic U.S., respectively.
In addition to Champion Sarah Oldam, two other dancers finished in the Top Ten for Girls 16-17. Blair Croce of the Early-McLoughlin School of Irish Dance in New Jersey and New York placed 8th and Rose White of Rince na Tiarna in New York placed 10th. Seven other dancers placed from 15th to 37th: Erin Lynch from Rince na Tiarna, 15th; Kendall Griffler from Early-McLoughlin, 24th Tie; Ashley Negrey from Knock, 29th; Erica Cocco from Penk O'Donnell, 31st; Jennie Gardner from Clarkson, 35th; and Ciara McGovern from Denogla, 37th.
Competitive Irish dancers from the Middle America, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Western Canada regons of the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America made a fabulous impression across the pond today in South Dublin.