THE World Irish Dancing Championships – or Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne to our Irish friends – is coming to Glasgow later this month. 

Kicking off on March 24 and running until March 31, the city’s SEC Armadillo will welcome around 2,700 dancers from 23 countries. 

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The West End landmark will host around 10,000 spectators over the week as the city gears up to run the competition for a sixth time. 

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From the Southside to Japan, the Glasgow Times spoke to a few dancers who have earned their place at the prestigious gig including Zara Gibb who hopes to high-kick her way to glory in her hometown. 

The 10-year-old said: “I’m so excited, I’m counting down the days. 

“I just want to make sure that I dance my very best and do the best performance that I can.”

The youngster, who will be competing in the Under 11 category, first began Irish dancing after following in her granny’s footsteps, literally.  

Pauline Gibb, Zara’s mum, said: “Even though my mum is 85, the dancing brings them together. 

“My mum was so good when she was younger, obviously she is older now, but it is lovely that it sparks the memory. She hears the music, and you can see her feet start going. 

“It’s really nice when you have two people in one family sharing the same love for something.”

She continued: “I’m so proud that Zara managed to qualify. She trains three times a week, as well as at home. She is just so motivated.” 

Kelsie Wells and Niamh Auld, who hail all the way from Tasmania, Australia, are certainly feeling the excitement about coming to Glasgow and competing.  

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Niamh, 14, who will be competing in the Under 15 category, said: “I’m really quite excited, I’m not actually feeling too nervous. 

“We’re going for the experience of it and to just soak it all in when we’re there.”

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Kelsie, 18, who first got into the dance form after watching the Australian show Dancing Down Under, added: “I’m quite nervous about the upcoming Worlds but I definitely think this is something that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

“This is our first Worlds and our first time coming to Glasgow too, it’s exciting.”

Kelsie will be competing in the Under 19 category. 

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Sawako Ito, who hails from Japan, has went from starting Irish dancing as a way to learn English to attending what will be her third World Championships this month. 

The 14-year-old explained: “I lived in a foreign country (Qatar) at one point, and I couldn’t speak English. My mum put me into a bunch of after-school activities and one of them was, of course, Irish dancing – and I just fell in love.”

Though Sawako, who is set to compete in the Under 14 category, had to miss the first Worlds due to Covid-19, she thankfully made last year’s competition in Montreal. 

Even though the youngster did not place, she said she could not wait to experience the competition all over again. 

She added: “I was so nervous [at the competition in Montreal] that I fell twice, and I think that really got to me, but it was still an amazing experience to dance on a big stage. Not a lot of people get to do that, so I was very grateful.

“I am still a bit nervous about competing again, but I’m really excited. 

“This will be my first time in Scotland too and I’m excited for that – I love travelling.” 

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However, Daniel Lee will be travelling even further afield as he makes the journey from Taichung, Taiwan with four students from his dance school, Scoil Rince Taiwan Céilí. 

Daniel first began Irish dancing in his thirties after watching Riverdance. Within 10 years of watching the globally renowned performance, Daniel had learned the dance form with exceptional talent and earned his teaching qualification. 

Now, after attending their first competition in Qatar last November, Daniel's students Jeremy Yu Rue, 14, Charlene Siang-Lin,12, Yuki Liu, 13 and Jonathan Fu, 12, will be competing in the junior Hand Mixed Céilí at the worlds. 

Daniel said: “This will be the first time in the Worlds for my students. They started Irish dancing just before Covid-19 and their first competition was the RRCCA in Dubai.  

“I think I am more nervous than my students because they have no idea how big it will be in Glasgow but, of course, I am so proud of them.”

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Sarah-Jane, a workshop teacher in Daniel’s studio, added: “The kids work incredibly hard, and they are so passionate. It is an honour to go to the Worlds with them. 

“It’s amazing for the competitors to be going, and that they and their families will get to experience Glasgow because they may not get there in their lives otherwise.”

The championships have been organised by An Comisiún le Rincí Gaelachea (CLRG) which is the largest and oldest governing body for Irish dancing in the world. 

To find out more information, click HERE