Ever wonder what it would be like to be better than everyone else in the world at something?
For the Murphy Irish Senior Dancers they no longer have to wonder. They spent Easter Week in Montreal, Canada competing with more than five thousand Irish dancers from all over the world. And they won! They are the World Champions!
A panel of seven judges - also from around the world - scored the dancers 475 out of 500 available points. They outscored their closest competitor by over 100 points.
It is estimated that more than 20,000 people were spectators and had the opportunity to witness the competition.
A win like this does not come easy. Competition is stiff and the dancers need to practice constantly. Few athletes practice as much, and in this Superbowl of Irish Dancing it paid off for the Murphy Irish Senior Dancers.
One of the most spectacular competitions is The Dance Drama. Sheila Murphy Crawford, the troupes founder and leader says "The Dance Drama category requires the competitive teams to portray a story of Irish background through music, sets, props, costumes and make up and of course excellent dancing. The required skills make the dancers stretch their abilities to include acting."
The Murphy Irish Arts Center performed to "Miracle on Whiskey Island".
"The story" says Sheila, "revealed the life of the Irish immigrants in the 1800's who worked on the docks in Cleveland and lived in a run down area known as Whiskey Island. It is still there today though much different. The seventeen dancers portrayed a mother with her two daughters, a mean landlord with his four bosses and their apprentice boys who do all the dirty work, three magical fairies from Ireland, and two children of the landlord who start out mean and wild but end up obedient and pleasant."
Although this is the Senior Dance Group the ages of the dancers ranged from 9 to 24. All are from the east side of Cleveland and include a policeman, a Ph.D candidate at Case, a senior and sophomore at John Carroll University; three seniors and a sophomore in high school, seven middle school dancers and two children.
World Champion Murphy Irish Dancers
In addition to the obviously talented Dance Team, kudos must be given to Sheila who developed the story and dance. Sheila herself is an award winning Irish Dancer and now shares her talent and passion with her students. Murphy Irish Arts Center is in its 37th year and in that time a lot of trophies, awards and ribbons were earned, but a World Championship, as one can imagine, is very special.
In the tradition of the Irish commitment to family, Sheila is joined in her teaching by her niece, Maureen Cavanaugh. Both Sheila and Maureen are certified Irish Dance teachers with the governing body of Irish Dance in Dublin, Ireland.
And husband, Bob Crawford, himself a musician with the Irish folk group, No Strangers here, is the technical director and also helps the parents with the development and construction of the sets, props, and costumes.
Congratulations to Sheila, Maureen, Bob and, of course, the 17 dancers who won this amazing title.
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