The podium awaitsTop Five All-Ireland Irish dancers in Dublin, Ireland next week.
Photo courtesy Feis America LLC
Three North American males hold 2011 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship titles. Nathan Dale, Jason Hays and Drew Lovejoy are formidable opponents, but they each know that the competition is strong and that friendly rivals have their eye on the top spot on the podium.  Here is a little bit about each of the last year's North American All-Ireland Champions:

 Nathan Dale dances with Mullane Healy Godley in Illinois and is the 2011 All-Ireland Dancing Champion for Boys under 14.  In an interview with, Dale said about his winning, “At first we weren’t sure if I won, but as soon as I did, we were all really happy and my mom was crying and everyone from dance school was coming over. 

When I was at the top of the podium, it was just the greatest feeling.”  Due to an adjudicator conflict, Dale was not able to compete at the 2011 World Irish Dancing Championships.

Peter Dziak from Trinity Irish Dance, who took second place at the 2011 All-Irelands, clinched the World championship and went on to win the North American National Irish Dancing title in July while Dale took second place.  Dale and Dziak have a friendly rivalry and are both from the Middle America Region.

Peter Dziak, Trinity Irish Dance (Illinois/Wisconsin)
Photo courtesy Trinity Irish Dance

Jason Hays dances with McTeggart in Texas, and is the 2011 All-Ireland Dancing Champion for Men under 20.  Hays also holds the 2006 World Irish Dancing Championship for Boys under 15.  Hays also holds the most current, consecutive North American record for regional Irish dancing championships with twelve wins starting in 2000 when he won the Southern Regional Irish Dancing Championship for Boys under 9.  He took second place at the North American National Irish Dancing Championships in 2011 and fourth place at the 2011 World Irish Dancing Championships.  Hays founded Jason Hays Designs in 2006 after his doodling of Irish dance dresses resulted in professional designs and stunning costumes.  This fall, he will major in sports psychology as a transfer to Texas Christian University.

Jason Hays, McTeggart Irish Dancers (Texas)
Photo courtesy Hays Family

Drew Lovejoy, an Open Champion dancer with McGing in Ohio, won the 2011 All-Ireland Dancing Championship for Boys under 16, making it his second consecutive All-Ireland title.  He went on to place second at the 2011 Worlds, and was the 2011 North American National Irish Dancing Champion.  Lovejoy also had a stellar year in 2010: after All-Irelands, he topped the podium at both the World and the North American National Irish Dancing Championships.  The first bi-racial and Jewish World Irish Dancing Champion, Lovejoy serves as inspiration to his dance classmates and children around the world.   The Ohio State Senate issued a proclamation lauding Lovejoy’s 2010 World Championship, stating, “Dance is an integral component of our culture and heritage, helping people communicate across cultural and social barriers, as well as uniting performers and viewers alike in a meaningful shared experience. Through Drew Lovejoy's persevering efforts, the richness and beauty of this exceptional art form will continue to be enjoyed by countless individuals of all ages and backgrounds.”

Drew Lovejoy, McGing Irish Dance (Ohio)
Photo courtesy Andee Goldberg

Best wishes to all the North Americans heading to Dublin for a safe journey and wonderful memories with your friends from across the ocean!
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Stay tuned here on Irish Central for more 2011 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship recaps, highlights and all the news and photos as the 2012 event unfolds next week!