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Senior ladies prepare for All Irelands, Interviews with top three Senior Ladies 2011 - PHOTOS

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Senior ladies champions 2011
Emily Penner 1st, Maggie Darlington 2nd, Emily Babyn 3rd
photo Deirdre Gallibois

Senior ladies will be competing for the All Irelands Irish Dancing Championships this weekend. I tracked down the top three champs of 2011 to get their thoughts and advice for this year’s competitors.

Emily Penner, Maggie Darlington, and Emily Babyn know what it’s like to continue dancing past their teens. None of the top three Senior Ladies are attending All Irelands this year, but they are willing to share their insights with the dancers who will be competing for the coveted spots for 2012.

“Senior Ladies is a whole new ball game because you are competing against dancers of so many different ages,” says Darlington (Claddagh Dance Company, US West). “Every year it is an entirely new group of people so it's impossible to judge, or have a feeling of the outcome before the day.” Babyn (Ni Fhearraigh O'Ceallaigh, Eastern Canada)agrees, “The caliber of dancing is just as high as the Worlds (sometimes higher!), and the atmosphere is amazing. One of the great things about the All Ireland's is the opportunity to receive "solo recalls" for the first two rounds.”

“I think the biggest difference when dancing as a "Senior Lady" compared to being a child or teen is the time commitment that competitive dancing takes,” says Babyn. Penner (Butler Fearon O’Conner School of Irish Dance, Eastern Canada) reflects, “It did make me feel more aware of the time I've spent training for and competing in competitions over the last 17 years: reflecting back on the trials and successes.”  

Penner was surprised when she took first place with a perfect score of 500 last year. “I was absolutely not expecting that,” she says, “When the first and second 100s were announced I was then expecting lower scores and was thrilled knowing that I'd end up in 2nd or 3rd overall. I think I looked confused more than anything when the final three marks came up as the remaining 100s.”

Emily Penner and Emily Babyn
2011 Senior Ladies All Ireland Champions
photo Deirdre Gallibois
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What advice do the ladies have for this year’s All Ireland Senior Ladies competitors?

“First, congratulations! Simply preparing yourself for a competition of
this standard is a great achievement. Second, enjoy every moment of
being a Senior Lady! This was my favorite age category to compete in,
the backstage "buzz" is amazing. Everybody is so nice and every single
dancer is there because their passion for dance is too strong to give
it up just yet. Good Luck!!”
~ Emily Babyn, 3rd place All Ireland 2011

"Just to put your heart into it. If you're still competing at our age you obviously love it, so you may as well put it all out there!"
            ~Maggie Darlington, 2ndplace All Ireland 2011

“Make sure to let everyone know that Senior Ladies can still bring it!”
~Emily Pennere 1st place All Irelands 2011

Thanks to Feis America blogger Darlene White for posting a full schedule of competitions at All Ireland. Below is a listing of the Senior Ladies and Senior Men.

Friday, 17th of February
Ladies 19-20
Ladies 20-21
Senior Ceili and Figure Over 16
Ceili Club Championships
Ceili Club 4 Hands

Saturday, 18th of February
Ladies 18–19
Ladies Over 21
Men 18–19
Men 19–21
Men Over 21
Marie Duffy Foundation New Musical Composition – 

Performance of Choreography


Bookmark this page and check back here on Irish Central's Irish dance page for timely updates and news from Dublin all week long!

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