• Stephanie O’Hanley

Young Irish dancers do Vaudreuil-Soulanges proud at regional competition


PHOTO BY BRANT HINKEY/COSTELLO IRISH DANCE

Regional Irish dance champions (left to right): Sasha Burton, 6, Isabella Parent, 8, Shylah Morrison, 8, all from St. Lazare and Mika Li-Moncel, 8,(right) from Vaudreuil-Dorion, with their teacher, Casey Costello of Vaudreuil-Dorion-based Costello Irish Dance, celebrate their team's win at the Eastern Canadian Championships of Irish Dance on November 13, 2016. The girls placed first in the Under 8 team category and were the first team entirely from Vaudreuil-Soulanges in the history of the regional competition.

For the first time ever, Vaudreuil-Soulanges has its very own regional Irish dance champions.

Students from Vaudreuil-Dorion-based Costello Irish Dance traveled to Toronto to compete in the Eastern Canadian Championships of Irish Dance in November. Also known as the Oireachtas, the annual regional championship, a major competition, is organized by the Irish Dance Teachers Association of Canada – Eastern Region, a not-for-profit organization of certified Irish dance teachers from Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It was the first time my school has sent dancers to the regional championships,” said Casey Costello, a former competitive dancer and certified Irish dance teacher who opened Costello Irish Dance in September 2015. “I sent seven of them and they were competing in different events. We had great results all over.

“I’m very proud of every single one of them,” Costello said. “I’m most proud of their team spirit, of how dedicated they are to becoming amazing dancers. I’m proud of their results as well but the results are something extra.”

During a team competition in the Under 8 age category, St. Lazare residents Sasha Burton, 6; Isabella Parent, 8; Shylah Morrison, 8; and Vaudreuil-Dorion resident Mika Li-Moncel, 8; wowed judges when they performed a four-hand dance called the Humours of Bandon.

“It was the first time there was ever a Vaudreuil-Soulanges specific team competing in the event,” Costello said. “And on top of that, they won. It was sort of like two firsts in one shot.”

Dancers from Costello Irish Dance spent three-to-five hours a week from January to November preparing for the regional championship and it seems that hard work paid off because they also succeeded in solo events.

Isabella Parent came first in the Under 8 solo competition, while Shylah Morrison placed 5th. And

Pincourt resident Brooke Grant-Butler, 11, placed 10th in the Under 11 solo competition while Kayenna Sheir, 11, from Rivière-Beaudette came in 12th place.

The Eastern Canadian Oireachtas gave the dancers, who also included Rivière-Beaudette resident Kiev Sheir, 9, a taste of what a major competition is all about, Costello said. “I find because it was their first year I wanted them only competing in the teams, number one, but also in the solos which don’t qualify for worlds so they get the experience of a major competition but without the added pressure of trying to actually make it to worlds yet.”

Costello’s winning team of four girls doesn’t qualify for the world championships because they’re too young. To be eligible, they would need to be in the Under 10 age category and their team would have to have eight dancers instead of four, Costello explained.

“This year was just the introduction to a major competition and then hopefully in the coming year we’ll be competing in the qualifying events,” he said.

“I run a competitive school so the focus is competition because I believe that competition is a tool that we can use to promote growth and to promote excellence,” Costello said. “When I say I’m a competitive school it doesn’t mean winning at all costs, it’s using competition as a tool to become better dancers.”

Costello said his school plans to participate in Hudson’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 18th.

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