Junior Ann Staskin dances to the Irish national competition

Junior Ann Staskin possesses a talent not known to most, the art of Irish dance.

Staskin has been involved in Irish dancing since she turned 8-years-old and over the course of nine years, has traveled everywhere from Texas to Florida in order to pursue her passion and share her talent with others. Two years ago, Staskin advanced to the Irish dancing Championship Level Division, and received an invitation to the National Irish Dancing Competition that will take place in Vancouver, Canada, this summer. 

Q: What exactly is Irish dancing and how does it compare to other types of dancing?

A: “Irish dancing combines jumps and kicks with intricate footwork to create our steps. There’s two types of Irish dancing: hard and soft shoe. Hard shoe is similar to tap because it is more powerful and made to show off the footwork. Soft shoe is more graceful and focuses more on jumps and sharpness. Unlike other dances, we don’t move our upper bodies. The goal is to have a straight upper body while moving your legs very fast”.

Q: What sparked your interest in Irish dancing?

A: “My mom always wanted one of her kids to get involved in Irish dancing and since my two older sisters wanted to play softball, I decided to try it out. My mom took me to a class and I thought it was really fun so I’ve stuck with it. Now I’m really glad she persuaded me to try it out”.

Q: What is your favorite part about competing?

A: “Honestly, I love moving to the music. At the end of the competition, I love seeing how far I’ve come and being rewarded for my hard work. It makes me feel proud of myself to compete in such an unknown hobby”. 

Q: Where are some interesting locations that you have traveled to for a competition?

A: “I’ve gone to Texas and Florida for regional competitions but the national competition is in Vancouver this summer and that will be the farthest I’ve had to travel for a competition. I hope to travel more for competitions in the future”.

Q: Is there a certain style of dress for competitions?

A: “For the more advanced levels, you wear a solo dress. Each one is unique and covered in sparkles to draw attention. It’s long sleeve, and the skirt stops mid-thigh. It shorter so that the judges can see how your legs and feet move. For hair, we wear curly wigs. The style right now is to have high hair to give you better height and draw attention”.

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