Irish dancers enjoying themselves at the first WIDA open feis in North America. 
                                Photo:  Sharon Summerhays

On May 18, 2013, Irish dance schools in the Western United States came together for the first WIDA (World Irish Dance Association) competition in the United States. 

WIDA is a fairly new Irish dance organization, based out of Europe, and focuses on organizing workshops, competitions, and examinations to help promote interest in Irish dancing, language, music, and culture. In recent years, schools involved with WIDA have popped up in North and South America. The Utah Legacy Open Feis is the first competition to be held in the United States. 

Roisin Robson, TCRG, with members of the Tir Ruaidh Irish Dance Company
Photo: courtesy of Roisin Robson
The open feis, held in Syracuse, Utah, was hosted by the Legacy Irish Dance Company. An open feis encourages Irish dancers from any organization to attend. Victoria Lambourne, TCRG (certified Irish dance instructor) at Legacy Irish Dance Company is amazed at how smoothly the event pulled together. Lambourne says, "The competitors were extremely supportive and encouraging of each other which lead to a positive, relaxed, yet competitive feis atmosphere."

Victoria Lambourne, TCRG with members of the
Legacy Irish Dance Company
Photo: Christy Dorrity
Lambourne recently attended the WIDA World Championships as an adjudicator in April of this year. Her perspective on teaching, coaching and dancing changed after attending this international event. "My whole perspective on the dancing completely changed after judging, especially such a huge event with such talented dancers," Lambourne says. "It gave me a greater, more in depth appreciation for the dancing."

When the Legacy Irish Dance Company joined WIDA in 2012, they began making plans for hosting a competition near them with the help of Tir Ruaidh Irish Dance Company in California. Soon, a date was set. Girls came by the busload to compete at the pioneering event. Parents and students all agree that the feis was a very positive, calm and fun event. 

An Irish dancer proudly displays her ribbon
at the Utah Legacy Open Feis 2013
Photo:  Christy Dorrity 
Solos in all age groups were held at the Utah Legacy Open Feis, including a Jump 2, 3 competition for toddlers, and Championships for older ages. Adults were thrilled to be included in the competition according to the level of their ability. Premierships by age level, and a treble reel competition motivated the Irish dancers to do their best. 

In thinking about the future of Irish dance in the United States, Lambourne hopes that many of her students will go on to open schools in the future. "I would also love for the surrounding schools to be more involved with each other,"says Lambourne. "We can be more unified, regardless of what organization, to help promote the dancing that we all love."

Plans are already in place for hosting the Utah Legacy Open Feis next year, and the Tir Ruaidh Irish Dance Company will be hosting a competition in October, 2013.

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