Diary of the Dance

Paige Turilli holds her second World Championship trophy

June / July 2011

Four young step dancers from the Inishfree School of Irish Dance share their diary entries from World Irish Dancing Championships in Dublin this past April.

Paige Turilli
Age 14
Pearl River, NY
April 15th I left New York for Ireland today. I fell asleep for most of the plane ride after watching a movie.

April 16th I arrived in Dublin Airport early this morning. My dad and I rented a car and drove to Citywest Hotel where we are staying. After taking a short nap, we went to the Dundrum Shopping Rockets. We ate at a place called Eddie Rockets, just like the restaurant Johnny Rockets. Afterwards I went to practice with Sean and Colleen, the Inishfree teachers.

April 17th I watched some of the competitions and then I went to a practice studio that I rented for an hour.

April 18th It is the day before I dance. The President of Ireland came to the competition and a parade of champions was put on with the previous day’s winners. While the president was here, I was able to practice on the stage that I am going to dance on tomorrow.

April 19th I am dancing today. I know that all I can do is go out and dance my best and put on a show for everyone in the audience.

*Congratulations to Paige, who placed 1st in her age group for the 2nd year in a row!


Matt Dougherty
Age 13
Yorktown, NY
3/19/11  The “March Madness” is over as of tonight. Inishfree dancers have danced at dozens of St. Patrick’s Day events all around the NYC area for the past few weeks and it has been crazy. Now we can focus on our steps for World’s! Since Easter was early last year, it was harder to get ready for World’s (in Scotland in March 2010) and do shows all of the time. This year we have 4 weeks between March Madness and World’s.

3/27/11 Big Apple Feis in Manhattan. This is a big “tune up” feis for World’s. Almost every good dancer from the Mid-Atlantic region is competing. There was a boy from Canada competing, too. He placed 2nd, so I guess we’ll see him at World’s. Ashleigh Hopkins from Inishfree in Texas flew in just for the feis!

3/28/11  Monday class in Woodlawn. That was painful! 5 steps at a time, twice for the jig. Then we did our set pieces two times in a row. Colleen is trying to help us build up our stamina. I am dreading Thursday because we are going to do 6 steps! Now you know that World’s are coming up.

3/31/11  Hard class but fun. Everyone is getting excited. We are sharing bags of Vitamin C drops so that no one ends up with a cold for the competition. Most of us are going to 4 classes a week now…and practicing on our own the other days.

4/4/11 Four classes this week. I hope I don’t have too much school work. Since I’ll be missing 4 days of school, I have to take assignments and books to Ireland with me.

4/9/11  My sister ruptured her ACL playing soccer today. She was supposed to meet us in Dublin. I hope she still can. None of us has ever been to Ireland.

4/11/11  Two more classes until World’s! We leave on Thursday for Dublin. My mom altered my vest tonight and we did the final check on costume, socks, shoes and the bag full of “might needs” like safety pins, shoe polish, moleskin and band-aids for blisters, etc.

4/14/11  Just arrived at the airport. There are many other dancers on our flight. You can tell by the dress bags. I am really excited yet nervous at the same time. We saw the Morrisseys from our school. Sarah is dancing in her first World’s, but she is more excited to visit her cousins who have a new Shetland pony foal that is only about a foot tall!

4/15/11 On the plane. I didn’t get much sleep. Just arrived in Ireland. One of the heads of the Irish Dance Commission just greeted us at the airport and directed us to a bus that will bring us right to Citywest. I can tell that my mom is relieved that she doesn’t have to get a cab.

4/15/11 After a nap, we explored Citywest. It is a huge hotel with a golf course. We tried to go into the main venue, but a security guard said that no one is allowed in there until Sunday. There will be 3 stages, one in the big arena, one upstairs in the arena building and one in a different building. The hotel supposedly has more rooms than any other hotel in Europe! It has a pub, a restaurant, and a dining room with buffets for breakfast and dinner. There is a health club with a pool, but we’re not supposed to swim before we dance. My teacher, Sean, ran a practice for the 5 of us that are here for the first two days of competition.We met up with some other dancers from our school for an early dinner. Everyone is pretty tired. Some dancers are going to visit family in Ireland tomorrow. We are planning to go into the city of Dublin.

4/16/11 Last night at dinner we learned that my friend Lauren and her mom also wanted to go into Dublin today, so we went together. Our cabbie was  really nice and knew a lot about the area. He assumed that Lauren was a dancer, but didn’t guess that I was. We took a double-decker bus tour and saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Dublin is a cool old city! We saw a band of kids set up on a plaza playing music on Grafton Street. They asked if anyone in the crowd knew how to dance, so Lauren and I did a few steps for the crowd in the middle of Dublin! There were many amazing street performers that we wouldn’t get to see in New York. We had a beautiful sunny day so we walked a lot…so much that I fell asleep on the ride back to Citywest. Sean and Colleen ran another practice, and this time there were 9 of us. We practiced for 1 hour and then we had dinner and went to the arcade that was set up for World’s.

4/17/11 The competitions start today with the youngest age groups. Eamon and Sarah are dancing from our school. We went to Palm Sunday mass at a little church, St. Mary’s, in Saggert. We saw dancers from Australia, Ireland, England, and the U.S. there!  You could tell who was in Saggert for World’s because we all walked back and forth from Citywest to the town. We have another sunny, warm day. Not sure why my mom packed so many layers and hats, gloves and umbrellas! My mom and Mrs. Walsh want to go back into Dublin to see some more sights, but Lauren and I decided to stay and watch the competitions. Eamon recalled but Sarah did not. On two of the floors at the main arena building there are huge halls with vendors set up. They are selling dance shoes, socks, costumes, wigs, personalized t-shirts and sweatshirts, chocolates, jewelry and food. They were also showing a clip of the new movie JIG which was filmed at last year’s World’s in Glasgow, Scotland. At the vendor area, we bought the program which lists all of the dancers and their competitions. We checked the rotation for my competition and it turns out that I am dancing with a boy that won 2nd place last year at World’s. I am worried. We had another practice before results. Results started with a cool band of 6 drummers. Then they honored Marie Duffy, who has helped run dance competitions, feissana and oireachtas, for 40 years. Michael Flatley showed up to honor Mary too! We stayed until the results were announced for Eamon’s age group. He placed 15th!! My mom made me leave then because I wasn’t feeling great. She just brought some dinner to me in the room and I got to sleep early.

4/18/11 Not feeling well on Monday morning when I wake up, but I’m dancing in about 3 hours so I suck it up.
-7:15 am We meet at the stage and warm up. They gave each dancer a certificate and a patch with the “World Irish Dancing Championships Dublin 2011” patch, which is really nice. I ended up dancing both rounds with just me and the #2 dancer. My teachers said I danced well and that I deserved a recall, but we’ll see.
-10:00 am We have to wait hours before they will announce recalls. We watch the opening ceremonies with three tenors, dancers and the President of Ireland!
-1:00 pm They just announced recalls and I didn’t recall. Since my sister, aunt and grandmother arrived this morning in Dublin, we didn’t stay to watch the rest of the competitions. We grabbed a cab into Dublin and met up with them to start a 4-day CIE “Taste of Ireland” tour: They took us around Dublin, but I fell asleep – partly because I already saw the sights of Dublin and partly because competing is pretty draining. We went to “The Merry Ploughboys” pub for dinner with the tour group. They asked for dancers to join them on stage. I met a girl named Jessie from Canada and we danced on stage! I received a text from my teacher that I was one away from recalling by only 2.5 points! A heartbreaker but at least I came really close…and I still get to see some sights in Ireland!

4/19/11-4/21/11 We toured through Tipperary; saw the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, Bunratty Castle and the Cliffs of Moher. We have had amazing weather! I can’t stop dancing because I am in the habit of practicing so much. My sister keeps telling me to stop! Along the way, I was able to go on the Inishfree web site to check how dancers were doing back in Dublin. In my competition, Conor Reagan placed 5th and was on the podium! Connor Sullivan placed 12th. In the next age group, Liam McMahon placed 10th! Paige Turilli placed 1st for the second year in a row. She is amazing! Heather Hanson placed 29th; Morgan Murray placed 13th; Kellyanne Farrell placed 35th; and Janie Turek placed 18th. Sean Sanders recalled, but I am not sure what place he got. Ashleigh Hopkins from Inishfree in Texas placed 22nd!


Lauren Walsh
Age 13
Monroe, NY
Tuesday, April 12 Today was our last soft shoe class before World Championships in Dublin, Ireland. This is my first time competing at World’s and I am extremely nervous. I have competed overseas majors before like the All Ireland Irish Dancing Championships but never World’s. I don’t know what to expect. Every dancer works so hard to do well at World’s. We all practice very hard every single day. Every dancer wants that world title.

Wednesday, April 13 Today is the day before I leave for World’s. Everything in my house is very hectic right now, packing and organizing my dance equipment. I have to make sure everything I need to dance with is packed, including my dress. I am supposed to be getting a new dress in Ireland. I am very nervous to see what it looks like. Tonight I have to make sure I practice, but not too hard. I don’t want to injure myself right before World’s.

Thursday, April 14 Today I am leaving for JFK Airport. I am so excited for World’s but very nervous! I am just happy that I made it to Ireland! A very small, select amount of dancers compete at World’s and I’m happy to be one of them.

Friday, April 15 I finally arrived in Ireland. The past day was chaotic, but I’m here in Dublin and my focus is dance. I am so tired – I’m not used to Irish time yet! Later I have to practice with any other Inishfree dancer that has arrived.
Saturday, April 16 I’m starting to get nervous about dancing on Monday. So many thoughts are crossing my mind. I’m worried something will go wrong when I’m on stage. Based on my dancing I am very confident. It all depends on the day though. Everybody has worked so hard to be here, and if one thing goes wrong to affect your results, it is such a disappointment.

Sunday, April 17 Today is the day before I dance. Today is also the start of all the competitions. I know a few people who are competing today, and I want to go and watch. I always try to support my friends with their dancing and I make sure I go watch them. Inishfree is one big team one big family. We are always there for each other.
Before I went to bed early, I stopped at the awards ceremony to see how everyone did. there I saw Michael Flatley, “The Lord of the Dance.” I left awards to go pick up my new dress. I was relieved to see it, it was beautiful.

Monday, April 18 Today is the day I dance. Right now it is 5:30 am and I am getting ready to meet my teacher in my ballroom to do my wig and makeup. I’m nervous but so excited!


Mary Kate DiChiara
Age 14
Croton, NY
In nursery school, my class put on a St. Patrick’s Day show and we all learned and performed a jig. The teacher told my mother I was a natural and that she should look into Irish dance for me. 10 years later…I’m still at it! I love dance so much and love to perform in front of people. I am really looking forward to dancing in the girls under 15 competition, one of the biggest and toughest competitions.

Tuesday April 12, 2011: Went to my last Tuesday class before World’s! Getting excited, only 6 more days!

Wednesday April 13: No class tonight, but practiced 3 hours on my own! Getting a little stressed with school work (have to make up for missing 3 days of school) and flying out tomorrow night!

Thursday April 14: Leaving for World’s tonight! Can’t wait to get there!

Friday April 15: Finally arrived in Dublin! Not that nervous actually, more excited to perform on the big stage! Practiced today by the Liffey river!

Saturday April 16: Very tired, guess I have jet lag. Only 3 days until I dance! Practicing at 5 with Colleen and Sean.

Sunday April 17: Starting to sink in that I’m actually here at World’s! I’ve been dancing ten years for this and it’s finally paid off! I’ve been working so hard and I hope I do good! Practiced again.

Monday April 18:  Dancing tomorrow. This is INSANE! There are so many people here at the hotel! Michael Flatley showed up to the awards ceremony! I really don’t feel nervous, I’m just so excited to be up on stage and dancing!  Had my final practice today! Hope I can get some sleep tonight…have to be up at 5:30 tomorrow!

Tuesday April 19: Wow…what a day! It was a lot of fun meeting people backstage from around the world as we waited on line to dance. Leaving tomorrow . Have a couple of days off and then back to work for nationals in 72 days! So happy for Paige! I was pleased with how I danced, hopefully I’ll be off to Belfast next year!

One Response to “Diary of the Dance”

  1. lil mcg says:

    this was such a compelling article. i wish to see lauren walsh dance live in person! what a girl!

Leave a Reply to lil mcg


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