MILFORD, Conn. — Story by Moira Staples, Maia Schwing, and MaKenna Sharpe - Jonathan Law High School
When someone brings up Irish dancing, what comes to mind? St. Patrick's Day? Riverdance? Leprechauns?
While these are all reasonable associations, this is only part of the reality for Irish dancers in Southern Connecticut.
The Lenihan School of Irish Dance has classes all over the state. Their dancers have had great success competing locally, nationally, and even globally.
Assistant director Meghan Lenihan has made a name for the school through her success as a teacher and the reputation of her dancers. Lenihan feels that this tradition has a perfect balance of physicality and grace.
“It’s a beautiful art form, but it definitely also has become much more physical and much more of a combination of an art form and a sport,” Lenihan said. “They train extremely hard and put into their practices what top athletes would do for their training.”
Dancer Erin Appelson has been dancing for the Lenihan school since she was little. She has competed in countless feiseanna and has even qualified to compete at the worlds. Appelson wishes that people saw the amount of work and dedication it takes to perfect her art.
“Usually when I say I do Irish dance people think it's either Riverdance, usually tap dancing or some sort of just jumping around wildly, but it actually takes a lot of skill and I feel like people don't know how much [um] time and effort really goes into it,” Appleson said.
Instructor Erin Collins grew up dancing at the Lenihan School and went on to compete all over the world. She later became a certified teacher for the school. Collins attributes her love of dance to its unique style and excitement.
“It's an athletic form of dance,” Collins said. “So there's lively music, you're moving, you're jumping, it's fast, it's exciting, and there's so much more to it with style and grace so there are elements of ballet almost, but it's also really lively and exciting all the time.”
The jig is up on Irish dance!
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