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Stamford Irish Dancers Prepare for World Championships in Boston

Students from Pender Keady Academy will be heading to the event at the end of March.

At the end of March, beginning on the 24th and just a week after St. Patrick's Day, the Irish Dancing World Championships will be held and this year, they're coming to Boston.

Lauren Beadle is no stranger to the event. A pretty, quiet, unassuming 17-year-old in Stamford High School, Beadle has qualified for events at the 'Worlds' six times and has been winning national events almost since she started dancing.

Beadle started dancing when she was seven. She's developed a love for the sport as a child and grew to consider the friends she's made in dancing as stronger than those she's made anywhere else.

"I started because my mom's best friend is an Irish dance teacher," Beadle said. "When I first started, I actually really hated it because I wasn't good at it. My mom said I have to finish the class she signed me up for and if i didn't like it, I never had to do it again. Luckily, I fell in love with it."

This year, she will join other students from the Pender Keady Academy of Irish Dancing in the hopes of blowing away audiences on U.S. soil, a rarity for the event.

"I like both [solo and group dancing,]" Beadle said. "I probably like solo a little bit more, but teams are less stress and they're more fun. And we're dancing with people we've danced with almost our whole lives. We all know how each of us 'works.'"

Erin Pender-LeVine has been Irish dancing since she was five. Co-owner of the school for about the last 13 years, Pender LeVine said there were time's she'd be at the school to teach for two hours before hopping on a train to make a curtain for Riverdance on Broadway for 8 p.m.

Pender-LeVine said roughly 250 students have come to the Stamford academy for the tutelage she and Kathleen Keady provide, mostly from Stamford, Darien and New Canaan. Some students come once a week, some daily. Some stay for an hour, some spend upwards of a dozen hours in the studio every week. Students range from 4 to 20 years old, though the school does offer adult classes for 21-and-older.

"Some of the kids going, this is their ninth world championship event," Pender-LeVine said. "We have a lot of regional champions, national champions and world champions here. We're known for shaping some of the best female dancers in the world."

Beadle said that's the highlight of the school, that the talent around her drives her not only to be her best among the best, but builds strong bonds between all of the performers.

"It's nice because I have so many people that are my age that are really good dancers so practicing with them helps me to push myself further," she said.

Pender-LeVine said she's impressed with how well-rounded and performance-oriented her students are considering how faithfully some of them practice their craft.

"I'm actually amazed with how well they all do in school with the amount of time they spend here," she said. "A lot of them are the best athletes and students at their schools as well."

It's a sentiment of which Beadle is a primary embodiment. She's a member of multiple school clubs and runs cross-country and track.

"The more I'm doing, the better I can focus on getting everything done," she said. "With no free time, I know I have to focus to get everything done right away, because I'm a procrastinator. If I have free time, I just won't do anything."

This year, Beadle's 16 Hand—a troupe of 16 girls performing a piece—will tell the story of The Sister McAustin, who disguised themselves as men to find work, and in turn helped build the transcontinental railroad. The sisters were eventually discovered, but the foreman liked their work ethic and allowed them to continue on.

For a sneak-peek of the performance, check the video above.

Steve Ellwanger March 07, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Looking great, love the new routine! Go PKA. Jane Ellwanger
DJ McAneny March 07, 2013 at 07:39 PM
This article has been updated to remove a video of the performance due to intellectual property concerns from one of the co-owners. Hopefully, after the competition, we will be able to repost the performance with an update as to how the Pender Keady team did!

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