Youngsters hope to make their mark at Irish dance nationals
June 20, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
With a mixture of excitement and fear, two young dancers from North Bend await their turn on the big stage.
Sarah Kate Goodspeed and Sydney Dore will perform next month at the North American Irish Dance Championships in Chicago.
It will be their second time at the championships. Last year, they competed in Nashville.
“I’m excited, I’m happy to go, but kind of worried at the same time,” said Goodspeed, 12. “There’s harder steps every year. Every year, you progress more and get better but so do the other competitors.”
Dore (pronounced “door”) shared in her buddy’s joy and apprehension.
“It gets really hard, because some of the people that are going could have been open champions since they were 10,” said Dore, 15, referring to the dancers who have earned a string of top finishes in Irish dance competitions. “They are really good, so it’s, like, scary.”
Both students at Preston’s Scoil Rince Slieveloughane — pronounced “skole rinka shleeve lockane,” Irish for “Hillside Lake Dancing School,” according to its website — Dore and Goodspeed have known each other for nine years and have Irish-dancing siblings.
Besides the two Valley girls, a student from Redmond and a student from Marysville from the school also qualified for the championships. They will all dance solo.
In the first two rounds, performers dance in small groups. A dancer that earns “recall” dances a third time, alone.
Last year, neither Dore nor Goodspeed got recall in Nashville. That’s the goal this year, they said.
For Dore, the fascination with Irish dance began watching Riverdance about 10 years ago. For Goodspeed, it began with a summer camp with one of the teachers at the dance school six years ago.
“It’s way technical,” Dore said. “You have to learn when you’re little or else it’s a lot harder.”
Goodspeed called Dore a graceful, effortless dancer. Dore said she likes Goodspeed’s posture.
“She looks like a champion,” Dore said.
And she should know. In 2009, she witnessed the best in the planet go at it during the World Irish Dance Championships in Philadelphia. Dore performed as part of a team, and has said her dream is to make it to the world competition as a solo dancer.
Both good students, neither sees Irish dance as a future career. For starters, it requires them to wear curly wigs and lots of makeup.
“On Saturday nights, Irish girls curled their hair for church,” said Shannon Dore, Sydney’s mom.
Years ago, Sydney gave real curls a try.
“I didn’t like it,” she said. “You had to sleep with these curlers on.”
Irish dancers deal with constant falls and foot injuries, from sprained ankles to broken toes. It takes hours of weekly practice to improve.
Still, Sydney Dore said, it’s fun. Dancers get to learn and travel and meet new people.
“You learn new ways to move your feet,” Goodspeed said. “New tricks and stuff.”
Wigs and makeup aside, both Shannon and Sarah Kate’s mom, Kim, support their daughter’s tippy-toed efforts.
“It’s nice to see them excel at something they enjoy,” Shannon said.
Since both moms have two Irish dancers each, they know dancers when they see them.
“You can always tell an Irish dancer when they are starting out,” Kim said. “They’ll be dancing at the grocery store, at the soccer field, with their feet under the desk at school.”
The North American championships occur from July 3-7. Nerves aside, both Dore and Goodspeed just flat can’t wait.
“Even if you don’t do well,” Dore said. “You still have a very fun time.”