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Elle Davidson, 9, is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her mother is from India, and her dad’s a mix of Irish, Scottish and French ancestry.
Like many other kids whose ancestral ties to Ireland are blurry, she loves Irish dancing. She has made it to the North American Nationals, proving that you don’t have to be Irish to do it.
“When I was young my friend and I always went to Irish dancing shows when we were three or four. And after one of the shows, they said we could sign up,” she explains, chirpily, after fixing her long black hair. "The dresses were really pretty."
Her mother, Monica Shah-Davidson, who is from India, says Milwaukee has a big Irish festival every year, and the young dancers get to participate. She chose a small school for her daughter because she liked its philosophy.
“You get a lot of encouragement and motivation from teachers,” she says. “And the dancers get to participate more than they would in a big school.”
“And you kind of know everyone,” Elle pipes up.
This is the first time Elle has been to a national competition, and she danced with a group, but they weren’t recalled.
There are so many top dancers at the North American Irish Dance Championships, and so much talent. Does young Elle find it pressurized?
“Some families are extreme,” her mother says. “We try to keep it balanced.”
“I think positive,” Elle adds.
For Monica, dancing is a beautiful form of self-expression. And it’s a good way to learn about a culture.
“It’s been wonderful for her to experience both cultures.”
And Monica has always found the Irish community very amicable. “Irish culture is very open, very inviting,” she says.