It was a great pleasure interviewing Paige Ann Turilli, and her humble father Steven Turilli ( the backbone and dedicated force) behind this true Champion Of Champions. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the World Championship in Glasgow when Paige Ann won World Champion 2010 and the excitement and the electricity in the hall was phenomenal.
Paige Ann is a very inspirational and wonderful young lady and I consider myself very, very lucky to know her. Of course as a fellow New Yorker we were all very proud of Paige Ann, Julia O'Rourke from the Petri School, NY and all the Americans that took home the gold. Paige Ann's dedication, discipline, passion and accomplishment of all her Major Championships in 2010 is commendable.
Paige Ann has a great future, she will be one of our Modern Young American Women that exemplifies, her aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility and Irish heritage. I look forward to watch what 2011 and the future holds for such a young accomplished competitor/performer. She is a credit to her parents, teachers, her heritage and to the Art of Irish Dance.
What is your full name? Where did you grow up, how old are you? Where are your parents and grandparents from? What connection do you have with Ireland if any?
Paige Ann Turilli. I am 14 years old. I have grown up in Pearl River New York. My parents are from Pearl River and my grandparents are from New York City. All of my great grandparents on my mother's side of the family have emigrated from Ireland. On my father's side, they are from Ireland and Italy.
How did you first get interested in Irish Dancing?
I had a friend in Pre School who told me about Irish Dancing and how much fun it was, so my parents decided to sign me up.
When and where did you start Irish Dancing?
I was 4 years when my parents first went to sign me up but the class was already full. I finally started in September 2001 at the age of 5. My first teacher was Sean Reagan and I have been with Inishfree ever since.
What is your own personal and greatest achievement outside irish dancing?
Academic award which include maintaining my place on the high honor role throughout my middle school years.
Why and when did you select the school that you represent and dance for?
There were six Irish Dancing schools in my area, but my friend's mom recommended Inishfree. My friends mom said "all of the kids have a good time jumping around on Friday afternoons"
How long did it take you to reach the level of dancing that your in? What were the greatest challenges you faced?
In 2002, I moved up to preliminary championship to compete in my first oireachtas as an under six. Then in 2003, I earned my two first place wins and moved up into open as under seven.
Was there a big interest in the Irish Dancing classes in the local community?
Yes, there is a huge interest in Irish Dancing in my community. At one point, there were six different Irish Dancing schools in my area.
Is there a big 'Irish contingent' in the school that your with or does the interest in Irish Dancing span many cultures?
I never really gave this much thought before … but I think there are probably more dancers that are not 100% Irish than those that are. I think it is funny when my friend Erin's Cuban father gets all excited about Irish Dancing or when my Italian Grandfather follows my results online.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
In the future, I would like to join nor of the Irish Dancing shows that go on tour. I would also like to become an anesthesiologist.
How long and hard did you work to make it to World Championships? What was it like when they calculated all the judges results and your name was announced as 2010 World Champion? How does it feel to accomplish your goals and be the reigning 2010 WORD CHAMPION for your age group? What is the next step?? Nationals and future Major Competitions? Where do you see yourself in the future?
Coming up to the Worlds I practiced 5 or 6 days a week for at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours a day. As the totals were coming up the scores were very close and we thought I had won but we were not positive. Once my scores and the other girl's scores came up, we saw that I had won by 20 points. It was an unbelievable feeling when they announced my name as the 2010 World Champion. My goal after the Worlds was to defend my national title, which I am happy to say I achieved. From here I looked forward to my Oireachtas which I am also happy to say I achieved and now onto the 2011 competitive schedule.
Tell us a little something about your school and your teachers and any advise you would like to give to future Irish Dancers or anyone interested in starting irish dancing. Please contribute Anything else interesting that would add?
I feel very lucky to be part of the Inishfree School, we have a school theme song "We are Inishfree" set to the music of "We are family" because that is what our school is like, one big family. When we are all together, we always end up singing that song as a group. I have 2 really great teachers, Sean Reagan and Colleen Quigley-Carey.
As I become more involved in Irish dancing, so did my dad. Sean would spend time at the end of my classes showing my dad important things that i needed to practice and perfect. As my Dad got more and more involved he became really good at breaking my steps down and helping me practice. I feel really fortunate to have my dad who is like a 3rd teacher to me. Sean and Colleen have a saying that they always remind us of "TBGA" True Believer, Goal Achiever! They have always challenged me to set goals for myself and they along with my Dad have have given me the support I needed to achieve my goals.
It makes me feel good when I do well and I make them proud.
From when I first started dancing, Sean told my parents that he thought I had potential and he helped me in every way possible.
Boys 10-11: John Whitehurst, Carey Academy (Not Present)
Girls 10-11: Julia O'Rourke, Petri (Not present)
Boys 11-12: Jack Quinn, Ui She
Girls 11-12: Cyra Taylor, McConomy
Boys 12-13: Eamon Kitching, Conway-Lally
Girls 12-13: Amy Mae Dolan, McConomy
Boys 13-14: Sean Downes, McCutcheon
Girls 13-14: Ann Paige Turilli, Inishfree
Boys 14-15: Drew Lovejoy, McGing
The Inishfree World Party Honoring our 2010 World Champion, ANN PAIGE TURILLI! A Party fit for a Princess!
I also was privileged to an invitation to Paige's World Party at the prestigious Reid Castle. Teachers traveled from as far away as England and Ireland to celebrate her accomplishments with friends, family, dancers and her teachers. The famous Cake Boss made her cake and a sculpture of her out of chocolate. The famous musician/DJ Conor McGurk, electrified the Castle with music and kept everyone dancing till the we hours of the morning.