UMass student to dance at World Championship 2018

Delia Mahoney will compete in Glasgow, Scotland


(courtesy of the UMass Irish Dance facebook page)

By Gretchen Keller, Assistant News Editor

University of Massachusetts freshman accounting major Delia Mahoney will lace up her dancing shoes and fly to Glasgow, Scotland to compete in the U20 division of the Irish Step Dancing World Championship 2018 Wednesday morning.

“Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne,” which translates to “the world dancing council” in Gaelic, is hosting the competition from March 24 to April 1. Dancers from the age of 10 up through their early twenties from all over the world will compete in their respective age category. Men and women are split into separate categories.

Mahoney has been dancing for 15 years and will be representing the Cassin Academy of Irish Dance in Springfield. Mahoney will be dancing the slip jig in soft shoes, which are similar to leather ballet slippers. She will also be dancing the treble jig, which is performed in hard shoes, similar to what is worn in tap dancing.

Mahoney qualified for nationals for the past two years, allowing her to compete in New Orleans in July 2017. At the last nationals competition, Mahoney placed 69th out of 170 other dancers. This year, she placed ninth in the New England Regional competition, earning her a spot in both the national competition in Orlando this summer and the worlds competition in Glasgow.

When asked about competing in her first World Championship, Mahoney explained her preparation both in and outside practicing at Cassin Academy.

“I’ve been taking excellent care of my health and going to bed when I should,” Mahoney said. “I’ve reserved studio space in the recreational center so I can practice in my sneakers with room to move, I usually go there at about 6 a.m…I’ve also been doing a lot of light weightlifting training and a lot of running for stamina.”

“I don’t get nervous until I’m on stage. I used to get really nervous, but I’m told I dance better when I’m more relaxed. It’ll be a little bit of a challenge, but it’ll be done,” Mahoney said.

A panel of seven judges will watch and grade over 100 dancers in each age category and rank them all, inviting the top 30 percent in each category for a third dance, referred to as a “recall.”

(courtesy of the UMass Irish Dance facebook page)

Two other UMass students, senior health science and sociology major Rebecca Munro and sophomore accounting and economics major Meghan Evans, also qualified for the World Championships in Glasgow, but are unable to attend.

The UMass Irish Dance Team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in Bartlett Hall at 8 p.m. There are roughly 10 members of the club from all ages. Members who are experienced in Irish dance hold classes and create dance routines to both traditional Irish music and sometimes to contemporary pop culture songs.

An experienced Irish dancer herself, freshman journalism major Laney Ackley invites anyone with an interest in Irish culture to join the RSO, regardless of their dance experience.

“My Irish culture is very important to me and my family,” Ackley said. “I’m always surrounded by Irish people because my friends danced. I love meeting people through dance, especially here, because it’s a super chill environment and we’re not all competing with each other.”

When making routines, Ackley explained how she likes to change up the traditional Irish footwork and songs.

“We’re not always doing the traditional songs, but instead we might be doing it to Bruno Mars’ songs and lots of fun stuff like that,” Ackley said.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski praised Mahoney for her hard work in an emailed statement.

“Congratulations to Delia for earning a spot on the world stage of Irish step dancing,” Blaguszewski said. “Her dedication and talent have taken her far! Our best wishes from UMass for an enjoyable and successful trip.”

The Irish Step Dance Team will be hosting an event on April 19th at 7 p.m. in the Bartlett Auditorium called “Boondoggle: UMass Irish Dance Showcase.” Anyone interested in Irish dance or heritage is welcome to attend.

Gretchen Keller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @gretchenkellerr.