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Ladies over 21 Sara Barton from Tampa Florida

The fall and rise of Irish dancers

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Ladies over 21 Sara Barton from Tampa Florida

See photos - Irish Dance World Championships photo gallery - Day 6

It must be every Irish dancer’s worst nightmare, to fall on stage at the World Championships. But a nasty tumble certainly didn’t deter the unflappable Sara Barton this morning as she took the mishap in her stylish stride.

The 21-year-old from Tampa, Florida was competing in the Ladies Over 21 category at the World Irish Dance Championships in Dublin when she suffered a fall in her first round.

She told the Irish Voice: “I was dancing my hornpipe and I fell down almost straight away, in the first two bars. I’m not usually a faller so I was unlucky but I think the stage is really slippy.

“I wasn’t hurt so I went back up after a few minutes and danced again and it went perfectly”, she smiled. Sara, a pupil at the McGinley Academy of Irish Dance went on to perform a perfect slip jig in the second round, exhibiting nerves of steel and a calm demeanour under pressure. You might say it’s the type of composure we’d all love to exhibit in a crisis, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the gorgeous Sara is studying to become a nurse.

She explained: “It’s really hard to keep up with everything, between studying and dancing. I also teach dance too and I’m going to see if I can take my Teachers exams”.

The Florida native certainly has the pedigree to open her own dance school. She was just two years old when she first began classes in ballet, tap and modern dance, moving on to Irish dancing at the age of 11. Then of course there’s the Irish connection.

“My mother is practically all Irish!” she laughed.

For spectators at today’s round of competitions at the City West arena, the Ladies Over 21 event was the only place to be as the world’s most accomplished dancers showcased their talents. Among them was Nora O’Malley from Virginia, a 22-year-old who trains with the Maple Academy of Irish Dance.

She took to the stage this morning to exhibit the skills that resulted in her winning the Southern Regional Oireachtas this year. However, it was a poignant moment for her, as she revealed it’s the last time she will dance competitively.

“This is going to be my last competition”, she explained. “I’m taking my Teachers exam in October so I’ll be concentrating on that from now on”.

For other dancers, the top-class competition in Ireland was a chance to re-connect with Irish relations. Oregan native Marisa Gilman was planning to make the most of her trip by fitting in a visit to her grandfather’s family in Cork over Easter.

Marisa (21) from Portland, also showcased her Irish roots by donning a green costume with a distinctly traditional flavour.

She revealed: “My costume was made by Gavin Doherty in Belfast. I had no idea what I wanted. I just said I wanted something elegant and striking, because I’m a senior dancer now so I didn’t want anything too flashy. He looked at my colouring and decided that with my natural red hair he’d put me in green, so I was delighted”.

Read more stories from the Irish Dance World Championships

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