For the second year in a row, The Inishfree School of Irish Dance, with locations in Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Mexico, hosted a party for its own World Irish Dancing Champion Ann Paige Turilli. In 2011, she successfully defended the World Irish Dancing Championship title she won in 2010. To add to the excitement, Turilli recently returned from Dublin as the 2012 All-Ireland Irish Dancing Champion for her age group. In keeping with the standard it set last year, Inishfree honored Turilli and her family with a special event held on the Manhattanville College campus in Purchase, New York. With Paige’s favorite family and friends, a taco bar, massive candy shop display, a disc jockey and delicious red velvet cake all set amidst the gorgeous venue of Reid Castle, the party was everything Inishfree’s World Champion princess loves.
Dancers, teachers and friends from area Irish dancing schools came together to celebrate with the Turillis and to wish all of Inishfree’s World Qualifiers a safe journey and good luck at the 2012 World Irish Dancing Championships. A total of 26 Inishfree dancers from its New York and Texas/Mexico schools will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland this spring. Turilli hopes to again defend her title and attends class two to three days a week with her teachers at Inishfree, Sean Reagan ADCRG and Colleen Quigley-Carey TCRG in addition to practicing at home the other four days of the week.
“Right after Oireachtas, I switched over to my new steps for the All-Irelands, and once we got back from Dublin, I started re-working the 2011 steps which I will dance at the Worlds,” shared Turilli. Every year, champion dancers alternate light and heavy dances for competition. In 2011 the group that was Girls 14-15 dancing a slip jig and treble jig; in 2012, they moved to the Girls 15-16 category and switched over to a reel and hornpipe. The World Irish Dancing Championships rules require entrants to dance the same steps with which s/he qualified for Worlds, and so competitors dance their 2011 steps. This means that Turilli will be dancing a slip jig and treble jig in Belfast at the end of the month.
At the party, Quigley-Carey acknowledged Paige’s supportive family including her mother Carol and two younger sisters. She singled out Paige’s father, Steve Turilli, for his important role in his daughter’s success as an Irish dancer. “Steve really helps to coach and to train her along with Sean and I and does amazing, amazing work and is very humble.”
Steve Turilli, a former police officer and retired firefighter, coaches Paige 3-4 days a week on the technique and execution training she gets from Reagan and Quigley-Carey in dance class. A five-year-old Paige started Irish dancing with Inishfree just a week before the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. As a First Responder with the Fire Department of New York, her father was part of a rescue team which survived the collapse of the Twin Towers. Paige attributes her dad’s life as the gift that enabled her to continue her pursuit of Irish dancing; their close relationship is instrumental to her international successes.
In an interview after the presentation, Paige said, “If it weren’t for my father, I wouldn’t be here celebrating like this today.”
Paige’s immediate goal is to maintain her straight-A academic record, understanding the importance of her grades when it comes time to apply to colleges. She also wants to win the World Irish Dancing Championship and the other major competitions in 2012. Paige looks forward to seeing the friends from around the world she has made through Irish dance over the next few months in Belfast and in Chicago at the North American Irish Dancing Championships.