ARTS AND FEATURES — 11 March 2014

Olivia Drury, third in last year’s World Championships, with teachers Donna Crouch, Rachael Corr and Pauline Shaw

By David Hennessy

The Claddagh Academy of Irish Dance had success at the World Championships in Boston last year when its student Olivia Drury finished third. But her teacher Donna Crouch hopes a fully fit Olivia can perform even better this time around.

Donna told The Irish World: “Olivia has been my hopeful for the last three years, she has won the All- Ireland twice (2011 and 2012), the British championships and she cleans up at the local feises she goes to.

“Last year before the worlds, she actually broke her wrist three weeks before  but she just carried on and ended up third with a cast on her arm. She’s on great form this year and with it being in London, it would be extra special for her to win it. Even being in that top three is a big achievement but her dream and my dream is for her to become world champion because she’s knocking on the door for a while now.

“She’s well known but we’ve got loads of younger students and other students who are really doing well. We have another Olivia (Allen) and she was top ten last year so we’re hoping to improve on that this year. Then we have various other boys and girls that we’re hoping for world medals for.”

The Claddagh Academy has over 30 years of experience since it was established by Donna’s mother, Pauline Shaw and it is very much a family affair with Pauline, Donna, Donna’s brother Dean Crouch and his girlfriend Rachel Corr from Belfast all teaching.

Dean is three times World Champion, one of the most successful Irish dancers to ever have competed and the only world champ to ever get a perfect score of 900. Dean is also a talented musician and will be playing at the forthcoming championships.

Donna adds: “The school’s continuously growing. Within our school, we’re doing the teams as well, and we’ve got a great atmosphere because it means that kids that weren’t qualified for the worlds can go to the worlds to compete this year in a ceilidh team so we’ve got more numbers than we’ve ever had. It just means kids that didn’t want to do it competitively solely can do it and achieve world medals.”

Is it hard to find funding/sponsorship? “It is quite hard but as a school we fundraise as much as we can. The parents in our school are fantastic. With the worlds being in London this year, it does make it a bit easier because people are more aware and local organisations are more inclined to get involved because it’s being hosted in London for the first time ever.”

For more information on The Claddagh Academy of Irish Dance, go to: http://claddaghacademy.com/.

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