CAID Great Britain Championships
The Celtic Association of Irish Dance (CAID) is one of the several open platform bodies that have come into existence since the turn of the millennium.
Established in England by London-based Christine Sweetland in 2000, who chaired it in its early years, with a view to developing an alternative for Irish dancers and dance schools who preferred not to be shackled by the controls, regulations and restrictions that have been built up over decades by the Irelandbased ‘Big Two’ – An Choimisiún and An Chomhdháil.
The success of its first feis in North London generated great interest among those teachers and dancers who wanted to step out from the shadows of the ‘Big Two’.
The CAID family began to grow and within a short space of time it was big enough to have a major annual flag-ship event called the Celtic National Championships. So popular was this event that it became necessary to hold it in holiday resorts in Yarmouth and Poole.
I have heard the process described as loose electrons fleeing the controlling grip of overbearing nuclei.
However valid that analogy might be, it has certainly coagulated into a critical mass that is still evolving. I witnessed the rapid growth of CAID when I attended its first feis and subsequently its annual national championships. As the years progressed I lost touch with that organisation and was pleasantly surprised to recently renew my acquaintance when I was invited to attend the CAID Great Britain Championships 2018 in London.
My invitation came from organiser Sarah Carragher who teaches at the Carragher Academy with her sister Jessica and with Monica Long. Who knows, I suspect I had photographed them as very young dancers in their childhood.
It felt good to rub shoulders once again with old ‘school friends’ and to make new friends with dancers and teachers of schools who had joined since my long absence from CAID competitions.
The championships held at Bacon’s College in Rotherhithe brought back good memories of several CAID events in its early years. The atmosphere was friendly, busy and businesslike. I guess it just had to be businesslike in order to contain 120 separate competitions for beginners, primary, intermediate and open dancers, aged from under four to ladies who were of an age that would have been ungentlemanly of me to enquire about. However, I assure you that they were at least a fortnight younger than yours truly.
What exemplified open platform for me at this event was the vast range of ages and grades skills. But the most amazing exemplar was that one dancer who had registered as an independent competitor and had been self-taught, won first place in her championship. Nowhere else have I experienced this.
In organisational terms this was a creditable performance for a dance body without a full-time administrative superstructure, with a special credit to all Carragher Academy teachers and parent helpers.
For Noreen and me the only downside was the nerve jangling drive from Epsom across SE London to Rotherhithe. The Elephant and Castle traffic roundabout is not for the weak of heart.
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