Colleen Christensen’s Experience with Irish Dancing

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Senior, Colleen Christensen has been participating in Irish dancing for 11 years. She began when she was six years old when her mom saw an ad in the paper to join Irish dancing. Colleen’s family is Irish so her mom thought it would be a good opportunity for her. Irish dancing varies in difficulty, and the dancers can make it as hard as they want. There are local shows that the dancers can participate in as well as travel competitions. A lot of dancers compete, while a lot of dancers only do Irish dancing for fun. Colleen does Irish dancing for both the fun and the competitive aspect. One thing Colleen loves about Irish dancing is the impact she has on the younger girls and the opportunity to be their mentor. She loves the beginners who come and the big hugs they give her. Colleen loves the competitive side to Irish dancing and the ability to do hard shoe. Getting a hard rhythm down can be difficult, but it is something the judges love to watch at competition.

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The competition season for Colleen goes from August to December. They travel to Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Savannah and other Southeast regions for their competitions. All season the team trains for Oireachtas, which is the regional championship. This is when the dancers have the opportunity to qualify for nationals or for worlds. At the competition dancers will either compete as a team or solo. The dancers perform in traditional Irish costumes that consist of dresses with Celtic knots. These knots originate from the Irish book of Kells. The crystals and jewels that detail the costumes evolved over time but are not part of tradition.

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The dancers practice two times a week for two and a half hours. However, many dancers practice at home to learn the routines and perfect their technique. A lot of the dancers also participate in cross training in order to stay in shape and be able to get through the dancing round. If dancers are serious and want to be competitive, like Colleen, a lot of practicing must be done at home.

The best parts about Irish dancing are the close friends Colleen has made. She says the people in her dance school have become her family and her closest friends have been met here. She also has become close with her competitors because she competes against the same people every time at the competitions. Irish dancing is both an art and sport that takes a lot of time and commitment. Colleen loves Irish dancingand has enjoyed all aspects of it.

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