World's top Irish dancers in Belfast

Published Thursday, 05 April 2012
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Thousands of people have descended on Belfast to watch the best Irish dancers from around the globe compete in this year's World Irish Dancing Championships, being held in Northern Ireland for the fifth time in 12 years.

World's top Irish dancers in Belfast
Irish dancers take part in the World Championships at the Waterfront in Belfast. (© Pacemaker)

Competitors aged from 10 to 21 have travelled from across the UK and the US, and from a range of countries including France, Poland and Russia, to take part either solo or as part of a team.

"This is the pinnacle of their year's work," organiser Seamus O'Shea told UTV. "Obviously there's competition, but it's friendly competition."

And it's not just the dancing that has become more competitive, with the elaborate costumes and wigs running up costs of over £2,000 in a bid to impress.

One 18-year-old hopeful, Gabriella Klein from Long Beach in New York, told UTV that Irish dancing dresses in her area run to $2,800 - but that after eleven years, she still loves the buzz she gets from competing.

"I love the music and the exercise and it's a lot of fun going on stage and wearing the wig and everything," she smiled. "I definitely want to keep it up in college next year - I'm gonna miss it so much if I don't."

Belfast's Lauren Early, a six-time world champion who started out 16 years ago aged just five, will be aiming to rack up her seventh title on Saturday - but after that, she's hanging up her dancing shoes.

"It's very competitive. I try not to think about it too much - I just go up and hope for the best on the day," she said.

"I'm getting a wee bit old for it though, so this is my last definitely."

© UTV News
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