Jade Bridgewater, 4th place Girls 15-16 and Mitchell Hodges, 2nd place Boys 15-16
2012 World Irish Dancing Championships
Photo:  Callum Bridgewater

Jade Bridgewater and Mitchell Hodges had an extra special reason for enjoying the World Irish Dancing Championships this year.  The teenagers are competitive Irish dancers in both solo and team events, with impressive records that include Top Five in all the major international events.  But spending the whole week together in Belfast, Northern Ireland - in addition to their Top Five placements in the 15-16 events - was the icing on the cake, according to Hodges.

The two have known each other for some time, but it was only on this past New Year's Eve that they started dating.  Bridgewater, who has been dancing since age 4 (now with Doherty Academy of Irish Dance Coventry) lives in Birmingham, England.  Hodges, whose home is in Bristol, England commutes about two hours each way to Birmingham, where he practices with Carey Academy of Irish Dance.  He started dancing at five years old because his older siblings did.

Let the celebration begin!
Photo courtesy Bridgewater Family

Jade explains how she and Mitchell met, "I have always seen Mitchell around the dance competitions, but I have never really spoken to him probably until recent months.  My best friend, Leah Skerrett, who dances at the same school as Mitchell, was messaging me whilst at dance class and Mitchell went on her phone and started to message me.  We started to talk and get to know each other and it went from there."

Read more:

Jade Bridgewater 2011 British National Irish Dancing Champion

World Irish Dancing Championship 2011 Results for Boys-Girls under 15

Mitchell Hodges 2011 North American National Irish Dancing Champion

Generally, the couple gets to spend time together after Saturday dance classes with Hodges returning to Bristol the next day by train.  When asked about dating girls that are not Irish dancers, Mitchell is honest:  "It was so hard as I was always training and spending time in Birmingham on weekdays and weekends and on school holidays I would spend most of my time at workshops or at competitions all week so I couldn't spend enough time with them."

So happy together! Post podium celebration for Jade and Mitchell
Photo courtesy Bridgewater Family

Bridgewater currently holds titles as the All-Scotland Irish Dancing Champion, Great Britain Irish Dancing Champion and British National Irish Dancing Champion.  Her past record includes winning the All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship in 2006 and North American National Irish Dancing Championship in 2009.  She has also won her regional Irish dancing championship for the last six years.  At Worlds this year, Jade was the highest-placing non-North American in Girls 15-16, taking the 4th position on the podium.  She placed 3rd at her first World Irish Dancing Championships in Girls 10-11.

Hodges, in addition to placing 2nd at both the 2012 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championship and World Irish Dancing Championship, is a six-time World Irish Dancing Championship team member.  He won the North American National Irish Dancing Championships for Boys 14-15 in 2011 and  has placed as high as 3rd at the All-Scotland, Great Britain and British National Irish Dancing Championships.

Kelly, Jade and Dad Callum Bridgewater with Mitchell Hodges
Photo courtesy Bridgewater Family

Mitchell's whole family danced, but now it is just he and his younger sister Ellie who compete.  Bobby, Mitchell's older brother, is currently "The Lord" in Lord of the Dance Troupe 2, with whom he has performed since 2008.  Kelly Bridgewater, Jade's older sister, is also an accomplished competitive Irish dancer at age 19.  Jade and Kelly are members of Doherty's 2012 World Champion Girls' Ceili Team.

Jade shares that Mitchell gets along really well with her family, and that the Bridgewater and Hodges families get along great too. "They really encourage the relationship and think we are good for each other," she says.

With such a handsome and talented couple starting the New Year together, surely 2012 will see many of their Irish dancing dreams come true!

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