With St. Patrick's Day celebrations and dance-outs on the calendar of every Irish dance school in North America, it's hard to think ahead to the end of March and the start of the World Irish Dancing Championships. 

In between all of the parades, parties and visits to schools and nursing homes, the best Irish dancers and teams in the world are training and polishing steps which will be executed on the World's stages in Belfast, Northern Ireland starting March 31st.

In 2011, 28 North American teams placed in 10 events at the Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne (World Irish Dancing Championships) held in Dublin, Ireland.  Four teams from three regions clinched coveted World Championship titles: Trinity (Middle America) for Minor Girls Figure under 13, Watters (Southern) for Senior Dance Drama and Celtic Steps (Western U.S.) for both the Senior Ladies Figure and Senior Mixed Figure competitions.

One of the marquee competitions of the Championships is the Senior Girls Figure competition, which features teams performing intricately choreographed routines that would make any Broadway producer proud.

Celtic Steps performed "The Salmon of Knowledge" and their stellar performance beat out teams from Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia and Norway to bring the coveted title to Colorado.  The Senior Mixed Figure Team win confirmed Celtic Steps as the only Irish dance school in the world which has won two figure World Championship titles.

Teams from Broesler, Burke, Cashel-Dennehy, Celtic Steps, Claddagh, Clarkson, Cleary, Harney, Johnston, Maple, Marie Moore, McDade-Cara, Trinity and Watters made North American fans of Irish dancing and culture proud with a total of 21 Top Ten placements.  Burke, Celtic Steps, Clarkson, Cleary, and Maple teams also recalled and placed overall in three events.  All teams that placed were from the United States of America.

In anticipation of our coverage of the 2012 World Irish Dancing Championships starting next weekend, we now bring you recaps, interviews and hedge some bets about who will bring home the gold from Belfast! Stay tuned and check back often for everything Irish dance here on Irish Central.