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Considering Colorado-based Celtic Steps won gold in two figure categories at last year's World Irish Dancing Championships, the teachers' decision to hold back from sending teams to the big show in Belfast this year might seem like a surprise -- or more of a strategic plan to bounce back stronger than ever?

"This gives us a little time to push towards Chicago nationals and Boston worlds (in 2013)," Shaun Casey, ADCRG, said in a recent phone conversation. "Our goal is to really get everyone ready for nationals."

Aside from taking gold in two figure categories at last year's worlds, Celtic Steps placed top-10 in two other team dance categories. Then, at the 2011 nationals, four of the school's teams won gold.

Expect Celtic Steps' teams to reemerge at the 2012 North American National Irish Dance Championships in a big way. Casey and fellow teachers wife Aisling Toal Casey, TCRG, and Eimear Toal, TCRG, are perfecting brand new choreography for their under-12 figure team that will debut in Chicago. They've invested thousands of dollars in new costumes and had music produced by Anthony Davis.

Casey said the movements in the newly choreographed figure will be rapid, sharp and inspired by pom dance -- a style he and his wife mastered while touring with Lord of the Dance. He said that he's devoted to telling the story of the choreography in every piece of the dance, from slight arm movements to facial expressions. "Let the judges see the story play out on stage," he added.

Aside from keeping busy developing innovative competition choreography, the Caseys have also created an original touring show that premiered over St. Patrick's Day weekend. Strictly Irish, featuring dancers aged 18 to 27 from schools throughout Colorado, sold out all 2,000 seats available for its two-show debut.

"We're inviting really high-end, top-quality dancers in our area to dance with us in the show," Casey said.

So, while Celtic Steps won't be dominating team categories at worlds, know that the school's teachers and dancers are doing anything but taking a break. The school is sending 15 soloists to worlds, and there's a batch of teams in Colorado just waiting to show off their moves at NANs.

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