Irish Dancing: All England Championships

Irish Dancing: All England Championships

John Egan gives his latest update on Irish Dancing with An Comhdháil All England Championships 2016

Let me tell you about the An Comhdháil All England Championships 2016. It was a busy, lively, friendly and exciting event. And particularly so for the youngest dancers who were attending their very first competition.

But all of the dancers had the enviable experience of stepping out on a stage at the Watford Colosseum where national and international celebrities of stage and screen appear weekly.

Hopefully they will cherish the memory and retell it to children and grandchildren in years and generations to come. But will they remember or appreciate that Ken Dodd and Barbara Windsor had trodden the very same stage boards only a few days earlier.

If not, I suggest that luckily Wikipedia will always be there for them. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe the Colosseum in Watford as a rival to the best I have experienced at world championship level. A purpose built theatre like this, with welcoming and helpful staff at all levels, and a range of facilities expected of a modern society, is surely the way forward for our major dance events. Feedback from dancers, from parents and from all concerned was 100% positive.

See a selection of pics here from the Championships. For all our pics, pick up a copy of this week’s Irish World, available from your local store.

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Congratulations are in order for the organisers, for the venue staff and in particular for the dancers who provided the audience with a feast of dancing of a very high standard.

I suspect that the Watford Colosseum will be much sought after as a dance venue for regional and national dance events of all the governing bodies of Irish dancing.

The All England event was organised by the London & Home Counties branch of An Comhdháil headed up by Aisling O’Toole. In terms of numerical size I guess that An Comhdhail is second only to An Coimisiun. The vast majority of Comhdháil dancers are based in Ireland but it has a sizeable sprinkling in England and Scotland with affiliations across the pond.

I hesitate to offer a potted history of the schism between An Coimisiún and An Comhdháil that happened in the 1960’s, but hopefully some brave dance historian will clutch that nettle some day. In the me a n t ime folks without a knowledge or vested interest will continue to ask why the twain can’t meet. Let me tell them that it won’t ever happen.

But once again I continue to remain puzzled and curious about the use of ‘All’ in the titles ‘All England’ and ‘All Scotland’ championships. Readers will know that the title ‘All Ireland’, when referring to competitions in Ireland, signify that the sport or activity concerned, is a national event in which the whole of the politically divided island participates e.g. Gaelic games, rugby and, of course, dancing (but not soccer).

Perhaps the word ‘All’ just has a nice ring to it and signifies noone is excluded.

Comments to me on a postcard please.

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