More than 6,000 Irish dancers from all over the world are set for the start of the 2009 World championship Organizers.
The excitement level is so high that participants in the first U.S.-based World Irish Dancing Championships are “like horses in the gate waiting for the race to start.”
So says Seamus O’Se, the public relations director of An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, the Irish Dancing Commission (CLRG), in Philadelphia.
There has been a huge increase in American entries since the City of Brotherly Love won the rights in 2006 to host the first North American-based championships.
O'Se said the numbers entering from the U.S. had surged by more than 2,000 since Philly beat out Boston to be the venue.
“For dance schools here in North America, as soon as the world championship was announced – and that’s almost three years ago – they planned to bring teams here, where they would not have brought them in as large of numbers to Ireland. But here, everybody wants a piece of the action,” says O’Se.
O’Se has been involved in with the CLRG for over 40 years, serving on various committees and as chair of the organization from 1998 until his term ended in 2008.
“We’re in waiting mode, dealing with the last-minute bits and pieces,” O’Se told IrishCentral.com.
This year will mark the 39th World Irish Dancing Championships, which were established in 1970.
Numerically, 2009 should be the 40th event, but in 2001, most social events in Britain and Ireland were cancelled due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
An estimated 6,000 dancers will compete in this year’s championships, 2,000 more than the event’s average.
Dancers from the minimum age of 10 to upwards of 30 (in the over-21 group) have participated in past championships.
The biggest age groups are the 12-13 and 13-14 girls, though O’Se says there is not too much of a difference in numbers among the groups.
And thanks to the enthusiasm and support from dance teachers and dancers in North America and all over the world, the recession did not claim the World Irish Dancing Championships as one of its victims.