Chicago's Irish dancing champs to defend title

March 24, 2008 11:03:09 AM PDT
The world's best Irish dancers are not found in Ireland --but in Chicago. They're members of the Trinity Academy Of Irish Dance, the reigning world champions. "I saw River Dance and I thought it looked so fun and I wanted to try it out for myself. And, I really loved it," said Danae Luetkehans, dancer.

Next week the group travels to Belfast where they will defend their title in the international competition.

"It's always super fun going to Ireland," said Maggie Doyle, dancer. "You meet all your friends from overseas...so I'm really excited."

"My grandparents are from Ireland so my mom is- she's Irish, too. So at first it was just to learn the jig and then it ended up being this," said Deirdre Gillette, 14-year-old dancer.

The Trinity Academy of Irish Dance was founded in 1979 and since then the dancers have won 28 world titles for the United States.

Emmy award winning choreographer Mark Howard was a teenager when he created the academy.

"You know this is something that started in a basement with 20 kids on the Northwest Side and it's grown to be the largest Irish dance school in the world," said Howard.

Howard's wife, Natalie, also teaches.

"We're proud to say here that Trinity is the only North American school that has ever won gold in team dancing. They've done that 7 times now," said Natalie Howard. "It's been an amazing journey. I can't wait for the future."

To learn more about the academy, visit TrinityIrishDancers.com


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