During the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America (IDTANA) Southern Region Oireachtas in December, Isabella “Izzy” Renzi took home a first-place trophy as U11 girls champion. Annabelle Baker earned second place in her class.
Both girls dance for the McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance.
“I was so happy and excited that I won,” said Izzy, a sixth-grader who attends Severna Park Middle School. “It was my first Oireachtas, and I worked really hard to prepare. It felt like a dream to achieve a huge goal of mine with the amazing help of my teachers.”
The Oireachtas (pronounced Uh-rock-tus) is a three-day regional championship where Irish dancers compete to qualify for national and world championships. More than 2,000 dancers from across the southern region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Mexico, competed in Greensboro. Each competitor danced one soft shoe and one hard shoe dance. Scores were tabulated and the top half of dancers were “recalled” to compete in the third round, which is a hard shoe set dance.
“To do so well this year was amazing and surreal,” said Annabelle, an eighth-grader at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School. “I have always imagined and wished for it. All my hard work has finally caught up to me".
Both dancers are excited to advance to the next stage of competition.
"In April, I will be going to the worlds in Belfast, where I hope to place in the top 50,” Anabelle said. “I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity."
Izzy also expressed excitement for the upcoming competition.
“It’s going to be such a cool experience to dance overseas for the first time and an honor to be among the dancers representing the United States on the world stage,” she said. “I can’t wait!”