As ceili dancers take to the stage in the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Philadelphia, eight young girls from Toronto, Canada are deep in chat.

"If I could go anywhere in the world to dance it would have to be Ireland," says Siobhan O'Brien. "I've just always wanted to go there," she adds with a fierce smile.

"Well," interrupts Erica Coleman, "it's where Irish dance originates so it would be just great to dance there."

All eight girls nod.

Like most of the 6,000 young dancers in Philadelphia for the World Irish Dance Championships this week these eight Canadian girls - who are aged between 10 and 12 were inspired to dance after seeing Riverdance.

"I love Michael Flatley and Jean Butler," smiles Nieve Brosnan whose mother hails from Co. Dublin.

"And we have the best Irish Dance teacher in the world. His mane is Ryan Carroll and I want to be like him," says Erica Kollman.

Only one of the eight girls has been to visit Ireland and she "really loved all the sights" and "all the green grass."

Alana Kearney's dad Martin is from Co. Limerick. "I love Ireland and can't wait to go back again," she said.

As the girls, who have been dancing together for two years, waited patiently for their number (48) to be called to the main hall, they told that although they enjoy all the glamour they would much prefer not to have to wear a wig.

"With these big things at the top of our heads we looks like Christmas trees," says Miranda Lee.

"There is just too much fuss with them," says Alana pointing to her blonde fake curls on the top of her head.

However they all enjoy the make-up aspect.

"I feel like a true Irish dancer when I put my make up on," says Nieve Robinson.

And Erica had a bit of advice for the group. "Make sure girls to bring a bronzer with you all the time so you won't look like a ghost!"

This is the first time the girls have ever been in Philadelphia and they are having a ball.

Young Hayley Pereira is not only elated to be part of the minor ceili, she is over the moon that her favorite musician is also in Philadelphia.

Hayley- who hopes someday to win the heart of 18-year-old Dean Crouch - told Irish Central that she has posters all over her room of Crouch who plays the accordian.

"I met him and even got his autogrpah," smiles Hayley from ear to ear.