Julie and Caitlin Radcliffe, sisters from McTeggart Irish Dance in Colorado,
at the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships in Chicago Monday.
Photo: Feis America LLC

The Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America is hosting the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships in Chicago, Illinois July 2 through July 7th.  This highly-competitive event is one of only two qualifying events for the World Irish Dancing Championships scheduled for Boston in 2013.

Julie Showalter, TCRG, ADCRG, of the World Academy of Irish Dance, is a co-chair of the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships.  Her welcome letter to dancers, parents, teachers and friends conveys the pride and excitement of the Middle America Region of the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America at hosting in Chicago.  Fellow co-chairs Tim O'Hare and John Timm, also certified Irish dance teachers and adjudicators, and committee members responsible for organizing this important event, encourage all in attendance to enjoy the beautiful city with family and friends.  Most families, even those who are relatively local, will make a vacation of memories in the Windy City that includes the excitement of the continent's most competitive Irish dancing event all year.

Read more:

Recap of the 2011 North American Irish Dancing Championships Part 3

For the love of Irish dancing: competition builds character

Adult Irish dancers - adult-friendly competitions in July


Tuesday will feature nine competitions for six age groups.  Female solo competitions include two groups each of dancers aged 9-10, 14-15, 19-20 and 20 & Over.  Male solo competitions are for Men 19-20 and Men 20 & Over.  On Tuesday alone, more than 800 competitors in these categories will vie for the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championship, with all dancing both a light-shoe and heavy-shoe dance to live music performed by some of the world's best feis musicians. 

Dancers will compete two or three at a time on a professional stage in front of three certified adjudicators who hail from all over the world, switching to new judges for the second round.  After scores for the first two rounds are officially tabulated, approximately half of the dancers are recalled to dance a third round, which is a contemporary set performed alone on stage for three new judges. 

Each evening, the award ceremony will recognize all of the recalled dancers, culminating with the awarding of World qualification certificates for the very best in each age group (over 10 years of age) as the new North American Irish Dancing Champions are announced.

Tuesday's competitions include six defending champions, all who hail from the Tri-State area of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York:  Kelly McCourt and Anna Sulger from Connecticut; Fiona Dargan, Taylor Kerrane and Gabriella Wood from New York, and Nick Paulson from New Jersey.

A small number of dancers from Australia, Ireland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom have traveled to Chicago to vye for North American Championships as well.  According to Ms. Showater, the 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships beats past events by a solid ten percent with more than 3,000 dancers competing in solo and team competitions over the five days.

For more information on the competitions, visit the official 2012 North American Irish Dancing Championships Facebook page, and stay tuned here on IrishCentral's Irish Dance page for updates, photos and results.