By John Egan
This is yet another new Oireachtas in the Cumann Rince Dea Mheasa (CRDM) calendar.
Earlier this year I reported on the growth of this dance organisation when I attended its third World Championships, held in Drogheda.
It continues to grow in size in terms of dance schools that have become full members, and also in terms of new teacher graduates who have qualified via the organisation’s own examination system. Indeed six such graduates were awarded certification at this recent event in Kings Langley, Buckinghamshire.
It was decided that the recent addition of more British schools now merited these new British National Championships.
The task of planning and staging the event fell mainly to local dance teachers Bernie Carter and Ann Butler, an experienced duo who for many years had organised the annual Hemel Hempstead Feis, previously under the umbrella of their Céad Míle Fáilte Association (CMFA).
It was crucial that they sourced a sizeable venue in anticipation of a substantially larger entry of dancers than before. They plumped for the Rudolph Steiner School which was just down the road from their usual Hemel venue, in the picture postcard village of Kings Langley, a village whose past is mentioned in the ancient Domesday Book.
And what a delightful setting it is too, set amid several acres of lush Hertfordshire countryside that once was the site of Kings Langley Palace, a royal palace of the Plantagenet kings of England.
The school itself is no slouch in preparing and offering its facilities in staging busy Irish dancing events. It also hosts the annual Hertfordshire Championships for An Coimisiún dancers.
The school’s purpose built theatre with comfortable tiered seating for 600, big enough to handle any feis in the country, was ideal as the main open and preliminary championships hall, and with a professionally lit stage which surely was an unforgettable experience to compete on.
Dancers came from most of the UK regions and several schools travelled over from Ireland. Most if not all of the schools of the former CMFA participated.
Much of the CRDM hierarchy was also on hand to lend support.
The large attendance possibly exceeded expectations and the timetable was more than a little challenged on Day 1.
But I have no doubt that much was learned from this and it is surely a minor teething problem for the first CRDM ‘British Nats’.