Irish dancers qualify for world event
BY JESSICA TOBACMAN For The Herald-News March 13, 2012 1:00PM
Sullivan School of Irish Dance Senior Team members include (from right) Emelia Misischia, Sara Dreyer, Kelly Fleckenstein, Alanna O'Donnell, Ashling Flanagan, Carrie Cicirale, Konahr Shirley and Kate Shirley. | Supplied photo
Updated: April 15, 2012 8:05AM
Konahr Shirley says it’s been “a long journey” to where she has gotten in dancing.
She and two Frankfort teens from the Sullivan School of Irish Dance in New Lenox are in for another long journey later this month. They qualified for the 42nd World Irish Dancing Championships to be held from March 31 to April 8 in Belfast, Ireland.
“I’m so excited. I still can’t believe it,” said Shirley, 19, of New Lenox.
She has been dancing since she was 3, but this is the first time she has qualified for this level of competition.
“This is the best I’ve done,” she said.
Emelia Misischia and Sara Dreyer, both of Frankfort, and Shirley all qualified via their performances in the “Oireachtas,” or yearly regional championship event. Theirs was the Midwest Championship Competition in November in Rosemont.
Dancers also can qualify through the North American Irish Dance Championships in July.
Shirley, Misischia and Dreyer all take their lessons at the Sullivan School of Irish Dance, which has about 60 students who range in age from 3 to 17.
“We have a small school, so it was a big deal” that they qualified, said Eilish Sullivan, Shirley’s aunt and co-owner and operator of the school. “The caliber is high.”
For Misischia, 14, it will be her fifth time competing at the world championships.
“I love dancing, I’ve grown up dancing,” she said. “I put all that I have in dancing.”
She looks forward to seeing old friends at the contest.
“Over the years, you see people grow up and mature and become better dancers and better friends,” she said. “The friends that you make in the dance studio and outside, you can’t replace them.”
Dreyer especially enjoys the performing aspect of dancing.
The school will showcase its dancers’ talents Sunday at its 12th annual recital at Lincoln-Way Central High School, 1801 E. Lincoln Highway in New Lenox.
The event, which starts at 3 p.m., includes traditional and modern Irish music and costume changes. Tickets are available at the door for $20. Children age 12 and under are free.
Refreshments will be available.
As a St. Patrick’s Day warmup, the girls also will perform March 16 at Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th St., Oak Forest.
Sullivan said Irish dance competitions teach students how to perform in front of others and how to win and lose.
“Irish dance is a really unique art form,” she said. “It’s very athletic. You have to be very dedicated. It’s a life-learning experience.”