This is only the third time the CLRG World Irish Dancing Championships has been hosted in the US
Editor's Note: The 2019 CLRG World Championships of Irish Dancing are taking place in Greensboro, North Carolina this week. New York-based Irish dance teacher and adjudicator Niall O’Leary provides his tips on what to look out for at this prestigious event.
The 49th World Irish Dancing Championships take place this month in, of all places, Greensboro, North Carolina before returning to its spiritual home of Dublin, Ireland in 2020 to mark its 50th anniversary.
The event is the most elite level of competition for Irish dancers in the CLRG (An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha ) organization and will see thousands of competitors descend upon Greensboro from all around the world for a week's worth of solo and team competitions - as well as a bit of fun!
Worlds 2019 recap video 1
VIDEO ALERT!! Check out the recap video from the past 3 days of Worlds 2019, provided by our friends at www.VisionMixer.tv. Tag a friend!Publiée par CLRG Irish Dancing Commission sur Mardi 16 avril 2019
Why are the Worlds being hosted in Greensboro?
Was Greensboro chosen because of its name? Does somebody important live nearby?
Actually no, Greensboro was chosen because it submitted the most competitive bid.
This is only the fourth time the event has taken place in North America, and the third time in the USA. Just like the Olympics, the Worlds is up for grabs…if you are reading this and you happen to own a venue with three large ballrooms and lots of nearby hotels and bars, get in contact!
2019’s World Irish Dancing Championships will be unlike any other
Won’t this year's Worlds be just another sea of fake curls, false tan, shimmering materials, and glistening crystals?!
Don’t be so easily distracted, you’re supposed to be watching the dancing!
One journalist sometimes asks me, "Will it be the same as last time?"
It is unfortunate that so many one-off Irish dance journalists only see the Christmas paper wrapping and never get to enjoy the present of the high-caliber Irish dancing at Worlds, which is sure to be amazing this year as the competitors are training on better surfaces, in bigger spaces, for longer hours, and pushing themselves harder.
What to look out for at the 2019 Worlds
The feet, the feet! You will see the most complicated dextrous footwork that you may have ever seen, way more complicated than most other art forms, and to think you need to be an expert at BOTH hard shoe AND soft shoe to stand a chance!
Apart from the main events of each age group’s solo championships, the numbers have swelled for this year’s team events. So many North American Irish dance schools excel in these ceili events, but can’t always bring all their teams overseas to dance in the "major" competitions like Worlds.
The Dance Drama competition on Friday, April 19 is always worth the admission price, as not only do you get to see some fabulous dancing and acting, but there is now a tradition of adding to the occasion with some local talent in different genres in between the competing performances! Last year some audience members who had been at the bar beforehand thought that the Fusion Fighters had won the Dance Drama, but they weren’t even competing in it!
Honoring those in the Irish dance community
Each year CLRG, the oldest Irish dance organization in the World, present Gradam Awards to people, usually retired teachers and adjudicators, who have given outstanding service to the Irish dance community.
However one of this year’s recipients is New York resident Dubliner Patrick Fay, who, along with his Dublin-based brother Eamon, has been making Irish dance shoes for Irish dancers from beginners to World Champions for decades.
The business was actually started by their father, who at one point had a shoe repair booth inside the door of Connolly’s shoes (now the Talbot Dance Center) on Talbot Street in Dublin.
Shop til you drop
A browse through the vendors is always a must while at any major competition, especially Worlds! It is fascinating to see the costume manufacturers vying to out-do each other, just like their customers do on stage - but note that the beauty pageant only exists in the vendor area! On stage, it is all about skill, talent, and that special something that the top podium placers have.
What will it be this year: lights on costumes, outfits that say your steps to you while you dance?!!
One fascinating new addition this year is Craggane Designs, Linda Cooper and Rosemary Cooper TCRG’s costume company have published a book of costumes with Celtic mythology stories and themes: Dressing the Celtic Soul. It is a breathtaking new look at the artistry of solo dresses stripped of their usual competitive setting and reimagined in lush photographic visions of myth, tradition, and fantasy.
The compendium reflects over ten years of designs and four years of world travel to situate the costumes often exactly from whence their stories came. Creatively chosen old and new literature accompanies the images in the book and enmeshes further the capacity for artistry that Irish dance dresses hold as timeless canvases taking flight in leaps and bounds.
A bit of craic at Worlds
Entertainment for the week includes The McLean Avenue band, featuring hotshot New Yorker fiddler dancer percussionist Jake James, and the highly-acclaimed Trinity Irish Dance Company on Saturday night, also featuring Jake James!
Máire Clerkin ADCRG’s hilarious one-woman show 'The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer’ will be brushed up and dressed down.
Can't make it to Greensboro? Visit VisionMixer where you can purchase a pass to view live-streams from Worlds events!
Good luck to all competing dancers: dance like you mean it!
Are you attending the 2019 CLRG World Irish Dancing Championships? Share your experience in the comments!