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The girl with the curly wig

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Instead of opting for the traditional warm beach getaway or the obligatory college tour, freshman Claire Caruso spent her spring break in Boston, attending the World Irish Dancing Competition. While there, Caruso represented her dance school, the Mulhern School of Irish Dance, through both solo and team events. Caruso’s team, Ceili, placed 23rd out of 106 teams.

“We went to world last week, which was really fun. The best dancers, mostly from America and the UK, come to it; it’s the biggest competition that we have,” Caruso said.

Though this was her first time going to the world competition, traveling for competitions is nothing new for Caruso, as she has traveled to Michigan and Wisconsin for previous competitions.

“Almost all of my school breaks are now spent at an Irish dance competition somewhere in the country. The competitions are great for people watching. Nowhere else besides Ireland can one find such a high concentration of red-haired people,” said Claire’s sister, junior Sylvana Caruso.

Travel, however, isn’t the only commitment that Claire’s passion for dance requires. Between competitions, Claire balances her time between dance classes, team practices, semi-private lessons, personal practice, and teaching private lessons.

“I admire Clare for her determination and because she plans intense practice regimes that she actually sticks to,” Sylvana said.

“If you want to compete, you have to be prepared to have Irish dance be your only sport. I wonder what else I’d be doing if I didn’t do Irish Dance, because you miss out on some things, but it’s definitely worth it,” Claire said.

One of the things that Claire believes she misses out on is spending time with friends outside of school.

“I don’t get to hang out with my friends as often as my other friends do because I have dance practice, or I have to do my homework so I can practice. I get to see them at school though, so that’s okay. I’ve also made a lot of friends though Irish dancing, so I love going to practice because I get to see my friends too,” Claire said.

Additionally, Claire often sacrifices two teenage staples- junk food and homework procrastination- to make sure that she is able to commit to her dance.

“She gave up sweets for several months straight leading up to the world competition in Boston. She also gets her work done quickly and efficiently so that she has time to go to dance class and practice on her own,” Sylvana said.

As a result of both the time commitments and the sacrifices that Claire makes for the sport, Irish dance has become an integral part of Claire’s life.

“Dancing seems like a natural extension of her demeanor; she is confident, enthusiastic, expressive, and energetic. As a result, dancing has melded with her personality and become part of her identity. I mean, she often dances from place to place instead of walking,” Sylvana said.

In fact, Claire was interested in Irish dancing even before she began to dance.

“I’d always been interested in Irish dance. When I was little, I would take out the Riverdance movies from the library and would go to see the little shows at the Community House. So, when I was in about third grade my friend gave me a little Irish dance lesson, I was hooked,” Claire said.

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The girl with the curly wig