‘Tis the season to showcase Irish culture through dance

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and Irish Dancers are preparing to highlight Irish culture across the region.

After the festivities are over, some will shuffle off to Scotland for the World Championships, representing their community on the biggest stage. It is a sport that spans the generations with families passing down the joy and passion of dance. Some dancers do it for the love of the culture while others do it for the thrill of competition.

“I definitely saw a St. Patrick’s Day show and was completely obsessed, like dancing in the aisle,” Erin Lynch, a teacher with Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance, said.

This is a common story, that often begins with family with a proud Irish heritage.

“My grandma showed me a video of Riverdance when I was 7-years-old,” Kylee Chapin, an open champion and world qualifier with Rince Na Tiarna, said.

“I told my mom when I was little I wanted to do a type of dance where I could skip and jump,” Vivian Conti, an open champion and world qualifier with Rince Na Tiarna, added.

It ends with developing a love for dance showcased during St. Patrick’s Day that builds up to the world championship competition at the end of March. Under the direction of Mary Kay Heneghan, Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance has 10 dancers traveling to represent Buffalo on the world stage.

“It is our biggest, most important competition you will ever attend. This possibly being my last year dancing, being able to go is my biggest accomplishment,” Chapin said. “We’re working around the clock for each one of these competitions and bettering our dancing and ourselves as people doing this sport … being able to share who I am with all of Buffalo is so exciting.”

Outside of competition, this dance style is about sharing it with others, passing down Irish folklore and tradition. Erin Lynch is a teacher at Rince Na Tiarna and former dancer who is now passing it down to the next generation, including her niece.

“The skills that she’ll learn from Irish Dance between teamwork, performing under pressure, and being respectful of everyone, and giving back to your community. It’s so much more than medals and trophies. It will impact her for the rest of her life,” Lynch said.

“It’s amazing to pass down everything that we were taught from Mary Kay to now the next generation and pass on our love of Irish Dance and the culture,” Kevinah Dargan, a teacher with Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance, continued.

The St. Patrick’s Day season brings together dancers across the levels with beginners looking up to the champions, hoping that one day they will reach the world stage.

“I know they are going to get bigger and they are going to become really good. I just remember me when I was little and I was starting out and I never thought I would become a good dancer,” Conti said.

In March, they’re ready to share their passion with you at shows across the region because after all, everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

“I just get really excited because everyone is going to watch me and then I feel special because everyone is watching. I get really excited,” Ava Nicholson, a novice dancer with Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dance, said.

Rince Na Tiarna will be performing at Explore & More Saturday, March 2 and Saturday, March 9, the Buffalo St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and at various times throughout March at the Buffalo Irish Center.

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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.

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