McGrath Morgan Academy of Irish Dance won the world title for dance drama at the An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) 2022 World Irish Dancing Championships, held April 5 in Belfast.
A number of Fairfax students were part of the winning contingent.
“I knew our dancers could defend the world title they earned in 2019, the last world championships before COVID,” said Lauren McGrath Dutton, owner/director of the school. “I’m proud of our team. Our veteran dancers who were on that first world-champion team mentored younger dancers who stepped up to learn about drama, which is very different from solo dancing. They should all feel very proud of themselves.”
Twenty dancers, ranging in age from 10 to 20, performed “The Belle of Belfast,” choreographed by John Lawrence Morgan. The performance features a storm that destroys the roof of St. Anselm’s school; a class of feisty schoolchildren; divine intervention that leads their teacher, Sister Madonna, to compete in a local beauty pageant; and the shenanigans that ensue with competitors vying for the title (and monetary prize) “Belle of Belfast.”
“We had planned to take this drama to the world championship in Dublin in 2020,” Morgan said. But COVID canceled Worlds 2020, and 2021.
“When we heard Worlds 2022 was taking place in Belfast, I knew we had to go – it was meant to be,” Morgan said.
In addition to the drama, McGrath Morgan solo dancers also placed among the world’s elite.
Three dancers won world medals: Meghann Murllarkey (from Fairfax) placed 16th in the girls’ under-18 competition, Jessie Welgos placed 20th in the girls’ under-16 age group and Isabella Renzi placed 21st in the girls’ under-12 age bracket. Aisling Reynolds placed 26th in the girls’ under-14 competition.
Other Fairfax students participating in the competition included Gabby Brown, Ciara Foley and Rory Kipp.
Dutton founded McGrath Academy of Irish Dance in January 2004. Although based in Great Britain, Morgan began visiting the studio to conduct semiannual dancer workshops in 2012. In 2017, he relocated to the U.S. to join the faculty full-time, and McGrath Morgan was established in March 2019.
With studios throughout the local area, the academy trains a wide range of Irish dancers from ages 4 to 40, beginner through world champion. McGrath Morgan dancers have danced for U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries, as well as nationally renowned bands, including The Chieftains, We Banjo 3 and the Flaming Shillelaghs. They have danced at the White House and Kennedy Center and in countless parades, nursing homes, weddings and community events.
In Northern Virginia, classes are taught in Falls Church and Fairfax Station. Classes also are taught in Maryland and South Carolina.
For information, see the Website at https://mcgrathirishdance.com.