By Melanie Williamson
For Madeleine Collins, her love of Irish dancing started when she was just five years old while on a family trip to Prince Edward Island. She said they saw a group of about five dancers performing and wanted to know what they were doing. After they returned home, her dad called and found where she could take Irish dance lessons locally.
Over the last eight years, Madeline has risen to the open champ division, which if the highest competition category. She has won at several regional competitions and in 2016, she placed 26th in the world for her age group. In 2017, she didn’t go to the world competition, but she competed at nationals in New Orleans and placed 17th for her age group. She explained that the dances she performs are based on her age, so each year she has to learn entirely new dances for competition.
She is excited to be going back to Scotland at the end of March to compete again in the world competition. She explained that the competition is a week-long event. She will perform two dances and then if she is called back, she will get to perform a third dance. After everyone in her age group and division has finished, she will learn her ranking.
Being one of the best certainly isn’t easy. Collins trains three days a week every week. This includes both private instruction and group classes. She practices in the open champ category, as well as the prelim category, which is the second highest. Collins shared that she recently joined track, but most of her time is spent on dance.
When asked, she shared that her favorite part of dancing is the competition. She said she loves getting to meet new people and watch others from all over the world dance, but being able to dance on stage in front of judges is her favorite. When asked if she plans to be a professional dancer when she grows up, she responded, “whatever comes will come.” She followed this up by saying that she doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up, but for now she is dancing.
To other kids who may be interested in Irish dance, she said she encourages them to try. It is something new and different; not a lot of people around here do it, so it’s always fun to meet other dancers. She also emphasized that Irish dance is not just for girls; boys can join in also. Her 15-year-old brother Jonah is also an Irish dancer, but she said he’s involved in a lot of other sports and band also, so he doesn’t do it as much as she does.