A dancer at Cloverdale’s Steel School of Irish Dance has taken home top honours at the first ever Canadian National Irish Dance Championships.
Imogen Paul was crowned the first U15 Canadian National Champion for Irish Dance.
“Our school sent 25 dancers and finished with nine dancers in the top 10 and three in the top five,” said dance school owner Jacquelyn Del Bianco Hardychuk. “Dancers from across Canada competed to gain the national titles in each age group. Over 700 competitors competed over the course of the championships.”
The national championships took place in Calgary in October.
Paul, who hails from South Surrey, also took home top honours at the recent Western Canadian Oireachtas (regional championships), winning the U15 Western Canadian title. Dancers from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba competed at the event Nov. 12-14, again in Calgary.
Cloverdale’s London Hardychuk was crowned U9 Western Canadian Champion, also at the Western Canadian Oireachtas. London placed second a month earlier at the Canadian National Championships for the U9 age group.
“Imogen is now qualified to compete at the World Championships in April 2022 in Belfast, Ireland and the North American Irish Dance Championships in Montreal in July 2022,” Del Bianco Hardychuk said. “London is too young to qualify for the World Championships, but she has qualified for the North American Championships.”
Del Bianco Hardychuk said it’s been a long 18 months for the dancers at Steel School of Irish Dance. The kids have been practising and practising and practising, but they haven’t been able to enter any dance comps until very recently.
“We have been so excited to get back to competing,” she said. “The pandemic has brought forward many challenges for our dancers and they have needed to find new ways to motivate themselves while not being allowed in the studio or to compete in any in-person competitions.”
Del Bianco Hardychuk said dancers spent a lot of time training via Zoom. When the studio finally reopened to in-person lessons, the kids then had to dance in 8 x 8 square boxes that were taped out on the floor.
“It has been a very unusual 18 months, but we are incredibly grateful to get back to competing.”
Steel School of Irish Dance is located in Cloverdale. For more information visit steelschoolofirishdance.com.