Dancing through the pain barrier at world titles
American Irish dancers overcome injury to perform
There may be no business like show-business, but when it comes to sheer grit and determination it seems there’s no business like Irish dancing. Just ask Ryan Ashley Moran, a dancer from New Jersey who bounced back from excruciating injury to compete at this year’s World Irish Dancing Championships in Dublin.
“You do what you gotta do!” laughed the 17-year-old as she explained how she has managed to return from a lengthy injury that previously forced her to miss this competition.
“I couldn’t dance for a year because I got badly injured when my abdominal muscles separated from my pelvis. It was caused by dancing too much”, she revealed.
For other dancers, that might have been the end of their involvement with Irish dancing, but Ryan Ashley had no intention of giving up the hobby she now describes as “the love of my life”.
The teenager from Hillsdale, New Jersey is a member of the Early-McLoughlin School and has been dancing since the age of seven. After taking her first tentative dance steps back from injury, Ryan Ashley has been steadily improving and came 5th in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals this year.
In fact, she’s so devoted to dance that she plans to continue her classes even after she heads to La Salle University to study speech pathology next year.
Keen to showcase her Irish roots, she also made a conscious effort to incorporate traditional elements into her beautiful costume.
“I think costumes have retreated back to the old style”, she explained. “I specifically asked for this velvet one and some Celtic design because I wanted something more traditional”.
She’s half-Italian, but has strong Irish roots in Tipperary and Cork. And she made sure to catch up with her Irish relatives there on a trip to Ireland earlier this year. Yet it wasn’t all plain sailing, as “it was calving season so they were pretty busy!”
Another young lady who wasted no time catching up with relatives this week is Isabelle Hastings from South Salem, New York. The 17-year-old is currently competing in the Girls 16 – 17 category of the World Championships in City West, and is joined by her friend Erica Guerin from Pearl River who is dancing in the Ladies 17 – 18 group. Both girls are members of the O’Sullivan School of Dance in Brewster, New York.
It was a case of killing two birds with one stone this week as Isabelle managed to combine her dance competition with a reunion with her Irish relatives. She travelled to Dublin with her mother Christina who was reunited with her aunt Maureen Reynolds from Manorhamilton in Leitrim. Maureen’s granddatherNiamh Ryan also made her way to the City West arena for the competition, meaning that Isabelle had some extra special support from her Irish cousin.
Christina told Irish Central: “It’s Isabelle’s first time at the World Championships so we’re making the most of it and getting to visit family too”.
From a first-timer to a veteran, IrishCentral also spoke to Long Island native Mary Walsh from the Petri School of Dance.
The 16-year-old travelled to Dublin with her mum Diane and revealed she is hoping to improve on last year’s impressive achievement where she finished in 22nd place.
Mary explained: “It’s a huge commitment and a lot of work. I have classes four times a week, sometimes five times a week and they each last two hours. It’s worth it though”.
And while there are several Irish dancers in Long Island, Mary admitted that locals don’t always understand the extent of her involvement in Irish dance.
“Last year when I came back from the Worlds one of my teachers told me I’d definitely do better next year. She didn’t realise how good it was to come 22nd!”