PHOTOS - North American Irish Dance Federation National Championships photo gallery

The curls were bouncing, the smiles were contagious, and all that is endearing and magnetic about Irish dance was evident on July 16th, 2011 at the Radisson Hotel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where the North American Irish Dance Federation (NAIDF) hosted its second annual Nationals Championship.

The competition boasted the organization’s highest number of open-platform dancers to date, with nearly 300 competitors from around the country attending in the hopes of dancing away with a national title. Dancers from Emerald Isle Academy, Mist of Ireland, Ridgewood Irish Dance, Pride of Erin, Celtic Flame, the Kelly School, the Irish Stars Parker School, Scoil Rince na Connemara, the McCormick School, Rince mo Chroi, Mulkerin School, Swift Creek Academy, New Castle Dance Academy, and Flying Irish made the event a spectacular showcase of talent, culture, and community.

NAIDF’s event also afforded dancers at the Preliminary and Open Championship levels the opportunity to qualify for the 2012 WIDA Worlds Competition. Within these categories, eight talented dancers successfully qualified for this international platform of Irish dance: Hanna Dunn of the Irish Stars, Allyson Holtz of Celtic Flame, Maura Delio of Emerald Isle, Melly Timmerick of Mist of Ireland, Meredith Griffin of Rince mo Chroi, Casey Krane of Mulkerin Irish Dance, Shannon Mains of Emerald Isle, and Erin Gatrone of Scoil Rince na Connemara.



Irish dancing in Texas – Inishfree School’s first recital

Camp Rince Ceol Irish dance camp hand dancing - VIDEO

2011 North American Irish Dancing Champion list


Not only was the NAIDF Nationals Championship a culmination of hard work and practice by solo and group dancers of all ages and levels, but it also involved a year of organizing and planning by NAIDF co-chairs Patricia Silver of Mist of Ireland and Kate Marshall of Emerald Isle Academy. When asked about the event, Ms. Marshall said, “I couldn’t have imagined a better day. There were so many smiles and the sense of camaraderie was remarkable. The level of dancing at this year’s competition was spectacular and I truly look forward to the years to come. These kids are the future of Irish dance.”

NAIDF is a burgeoning organization focused on the promotion of the love of Irish dance and remains dedicated to fostering a strong sense of community and sportsmanship, and to continuing the tradition of Irish dance as a culturally enriching art form. The principles intrinsic to the organization’s mission have no doubt resonated with students, teachers, and parents alike. In her reaction to this year’s competition—and perhaps illustrating the resonating presence of NAIDF as a unique dance community—Celtic Flame dance mom Maria Gilbert stated, “It's been wonderful getting to know the dancers and watching my children make friends from so many different schools.  It's absolutely wonderful and my family feels very fortunate to be associated with the NAIDF.”

Organization chair and adjudicator Sharon Stidham’s assessment that “NAIDF is, and always will be, a family, committed to celebrating the best in every dancer and every teacher” truly encapsulates the spirit of the event and the participating community. This year’s Nationals Championship truly celebrated a passion for dance, and the beating heart of the NAIDF family continues to grow stronger and louder among peers and colleagues dedicated to the collective goals of the organization.

Congratulations to all of the extraordinarily talented dancers who competed, and thank you to the teachers and parents who helped make the 2011 NAIDF Nationals Championship a success.

Photographs by Christian Hafer  and Keith Verkem.

Subscribe to Feis America magazine here

PHOTOS - North American Irish Dance Federation National Championships photo gallery

Celtic Flame dancers Erin Harbison, Claire Healy, and Mia-Claire SaccoChristian Hafer