Nine Champion Irish dancers, ranging in age from 10 to 18, from the Miamibased Breffni Academy of Irish Dance made its first appearance at the 2014 World Irish Dance Championships recently in Killarney, Ireland.
The dancers, their families and dedicated teachers crossed the Atlantic with great anticipation of dancing on Irish soil for the first time and returned home triumphant in their competitive endeavor with a total of 14 medals.
Four of the Breffni dancers earned a much-sought-after World Championship ranking. They are: Michelle Kelly (12th Under 17), Aubrey Swikehardt (22nd Under 13), Kaylee Brown (25th Under 15) and Natalia Brown (57th Under 13). All of the hard-working dancers trained hours a day to compete against the best in the world and had the experience of a lifetime during their stay. Some of the competitions had over 200 competitors.
Breffni Academy is the first school from the USA to have dancers win a medal at these prestigious Championships.
“We had many great surprises during the week including our youngest dancer selected to carry the USA banner in the opening ceremony. Breffni dancers were chosen to officially open the championships with the Mayor of Killarney, and last but not least a surprise visit from Michael Flatley for the Under 17 awards,” said Michael O’Hara, ADCRG, who is the director and owner of Breffni Academy.
The whole team received a warm Irish welcome from organizers, dancers and families alike. Their new Irish friends are excited at the prospect of being able to travel to Florida for future competitions.
“It was an incredible experience to make history with these dancers, being the first ever team from the USA to medal at the World Championships,” said Nicola O’Hara, TCRG, co-director. “We cannot thank all of our generous sponsors enough for being a huge part in making this trip successful.
“It was a huge honor to travel internationally with an amazing group of dancers and their parents,” she said. “They returned home with so many valuable life experiences that goes way beyond medals and trophies.”
The dancers are back in training as they already have begun preparation for National Championships in Philadelphia in July, followed by a double competition weekend in Sarasota in early August.
If you want to find out more about th academy, visit the website at www.irishdanceclasses.com or phone at 305-756- 8243. Classes are now in session for children of all ages and ability levels.