Shaw, a journalism major at Colorado State University, is competing in the 2017 World Irish Dancing Championships April 9-16 in Dublin.
Shaw originally started in tap and ballet. At age 8, after experimenting with an Irish step-dancing class, Shaw enrolled in the McTeggart Irish Dancers school, which specializes in that colorful and traditional form of dance.
Her instructor, Anne Hall, is the daughter of the late Maureen McTeggart Hall, who started traveling on bike to teach Irish dance throughout Ireland. She then traveled all the way to the United States and opened the first schools of Irish dance in Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky and other states. Anne Hall is now considered the leading coach of Irish dancers in the American West.
“After 20 years of dance, this will be my last time at Worlds,” said Radcliffe. “It’s a bittersweet ending but its’s time.”
Radcliffe grew up in the Boulder area and graduated from CSU in 2015. She met Shaw at the McTeggart school, and they have competed at Worlds together once before. Shaw and Radcliffe competed at the world championships in Montreal in 2015. Montreal was Shaw’s first time competing on a world level.
“My first experience at Worlds was a little overwhelming,” Shaw said. “You compete with world champions, and that is a whole other level of competition and intensity, but that’s why it’s fun.”
The competitors dance three rounds at Worlds. There is a hard-shoe round and a light-shoe round. The dancers perform in front of judges, and then those judges take the top 30 percent into the final round. Shaw said that she was more calm her first time at Worlds because she hadn’t set expectations for herself. It was more of a learning experience, seeing the best dancers’ technique. This year she says it would be great to get a recall (in the top 30 percent) because that means you automatically place even if you do not win.
“The competition at the world championships consists of a refined field of champions from every region of the globe, a best of the best,” said Hall. “To have the opportunity to compete at this level is a privilege in itself.”
Shaw says she will slip, jig and horn pipe her best on April 15 in Dublin.