Lady of the Dance: The newest leading lady in Michael Flatley's 'Lord of the Dance'
“In those early days of trips to Ireland, it was not just about going to compete. It was about meeting our relatives, eating tons of the amazing ice cream, and exploring the castles and ruins that we would pass along the road.”
Since those early years, Maggie has continued to visit Ireland to see family and friends, and while she has become very familiar with the sites and the people, she will not get behind the wheel on Irish roads. “I will never feel comfortable driving on the narrow roads or on the roundabouts ever again. I still won’t rent a car!”
Maggie’s grandmother, Nellie Spencer, now 92 years old, was born in Galway and immigrated to the U.S., bringing with her a passion for Irish culture, which she made sure to instill in her daughter and grandchildren.
“They didn’t have competitive Irish dancing when [my grandmother] was young,” Maggie said. “It was just mandatory that they learned basic steps and ceilis. Even now I don’t think my grandmother at 92 could dance a full, choreographed step, but she knows the basic posture and rhythms, and her gracefulness in dancing is something I would like to say she passed down through her daughter. She saw me perform with Michael Flatley at Madison Square Garden and she tearfully bragged about how she ‘started it all,’ and she is so right," Maggie said.
While her older sister Katie eventually left Irish dance for a career in competitive gymnastics and her brothers Freddy and Danny focused their energy on soccer, Maggie continued to pursue dance competitively for close to two decades.
In 2003, she reclaimed the title she held at six-years-old at the Oireachtas Regional Dance Competition in the senior ladies category. It was the following year when Maggie would achieve her career goal and win the North American Championship.
“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.