rish Dance Team holds Third Annual Intercollegiate Festival



Catherine Hamilton

After about six months of preparation, Villanova’s Irish dance team hosted its annual Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival on Saturday and placed third in their fun number, in the top five in the 4-hand reel, 8-hand reel and intermediate treble reel. 

This year, the festival had a record breaking number of teams participate when nine universities signed up to compete and take part in the day’s festivities. 

Besides Villanova, Sacred Heart University, University of Dayton, Catholic University, Penn State University, Georgetown University, Temple University, Johns Hopkins University and Rutgers University all participated in the event. 

Team Captain and senior Rory Beglane shared his satisfaction with the day, “I think the festival had improved greatly this past year,” Beglane said. 

“The quality of dancing overall was phenomenal. I hope the other teams see the level of competition and amount of fun that we had and are eager to join in next year.”

The competition section of the day started with the traditional 4-hand and 8-hand reels, universal group dances, that all the teams take part in. 

After an hour lunch break the competition resumed with individual treble reels, a fast paced, hard shoe dance.

Three professional judges, Grace Ann Coyle, Ellen Riordan Ross and Attracta Quinn judged the dances. 

At the end of the day a final show, open to the public, occurred where the winning teams and dancers danced their numbers and every team danced their fun number. 

Every team picks a different modern day or untraditional song or songs to choreograph an Irish dance with additional, modern day dance moves incorporated into it. 

Some of these songs included Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the recent hit, “Honey I’m Good” and even ’90s throwbacks. 

In addition to the fun numbers, the various competition winners took their place on stage for another round of dancing. 

Local Irish Dance schools, such as the Coyle School of Irish Dance and the McDade-Cara School of Irish dance, brought young dancers who took the stage and gave the audience and parents a look at where a dancer begins. 

The show also consisted of some live music when bagpiper Jim McGilvery performed for the crowds. 

Finally, one of the most impressive moments of the night took place when a parade of champions took the stage—dancers at the highest level who have competed and placed in competitions such as Worlds, Nationals, All-Irelands and Oireachtas performed individual steps for the audience. 

In addition to the competition, this year’s festival featured a new event called a dance scramble. 

Used as a way to get to know various members of other university teams, dancers signed four different posters, each with a different song and then whichever dancers signed each poster would create a dance to the modern day songs. 

This year many freshmen joined Villanova’s team and contributed to the success while also enjoying the day. 

“The Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival was such a unique and special experience,” freshman Catherine West said. 

“Coming from a competitive Irish dance background, it was so much more fun and relaxing to dance at an event where all the competitors are at the point where they are doing what they love to do and not concerned about placements. My favorite part was definitely the fun numbers, where each team choreographed a routine to non-traditional Irish music. It’s so cool to see how you can take this extremely traditional dance and create a modern, technical piece of entertainment. You could really tell how much practice and work went into the whole day and I’m so proud of my new team.”

The team puts a major amount of effort into the day, breaking the members into different committees such as facilities, finances, hospitality, publicity and marketing, program, sponsorships and volunteers to prepare for the event.