By Dianne Cornish, REVIEW STAFF
“I can’t imagine my life without Irish dance.” Those words describe, in a nutshell, how Flamboro Centre teen Brynna McVittie feels about dancing, Irish-style. According to her mom, Barb, the 14-year-old Grade 9 student of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in west Hamilton is oblivious to the sore muscles and foot blisters that inevitably come with dancing. “She’s never missed a dance class,” her proud mom reports.
Brynna’s training, dedication and passion has paid off in many ways, most recently when she won the championship title in the under 14 years of age category at the Eastern Canadian Oireachtas competition in Montreal last November. Oireachtas means “gathering” or “important assembly” in Gaelic and with 65 girls dancing up a storm to win recognition for their talents, it’s an apt description of the annual contest.
As winner in her category, Brynna was presented with a large trophy for her growing personal collection and also had her name added to the competition’s perpetual cup. She performed three dances, including hard and soft shoe rounds, to capture first-place honours.
A frequent participant in the annual competition, she has always finished in the top five and, in 2006, won the under 8 category.
A student at Goggin-Carroll School of Irish Dance in Oakville, Brynna has honed her skills there under the direction of teachers Barbara Goggin-Wade, Ryan Carroll and Lauren Stewart. She has been training at the school for the past year, but has a long history with Irish dancing that can be traced back to when she was four years old.
After seeing a newspaper ad about a local dance school that was hosting an open house, her parents brought their young daughter along to check it out. Her dad, Brian, signed her up that very day.
“She loved it,” her mom said. “She was a natural and was soon into the competitive stream.”
Apart from competing throughout the year in local and regional competitions, Brynna has also participated in larger events, including the North American championships and the World Irish Dance Championships. She has qualified for the Worlds every year since she became eligible at age 10.
She has travelled to Scotland and Ireland to compete and is planning to attend the Worlds in Boston in March. She’s also thinking about travelling to Spain in June to take part in the European championships.
Through her travels, Brynna has met many people from around the world and she’s cultivated numerous friendships as well. She doesn’t mind the rigorous training, which can mean up to six practice sessions a week when getting ready for major competitions.
Someday, she hopes to get a licence to teach dance and, when she’s old enough, she plans to apply for the dancing ensemble in a Riverdance-type of show.
“I love dancing because it feels like I am flying,” she said with a wide grin. She has put pen to paper to create a poem called “When I Dance…” to explain how she feels:
Floating, flying, fluttering, fun,
Jumping high-reaching for the sun.
Tapping, trebling, timing the beat,
Fast and furious, flaming feet.
Hair so curly, dark and long,
Bouncing, moving to the rhythm of the song.
The roots are found in Ireland’s past,
Her traditions of dance will last and last.
My heart soars free, as a bird up high,
I dance for hours, yet the time flies by.
A blister, a bruise, a Band-aid and blood,
All fade away when the stage lights flood.
Shimmer and sparkle, glitter and glam,
I’m an Irish dancer–that’s who I am.
It’s obvious from her words that her love of dance is deep-seated. Its equally obvious from the awards she continues to accumulate that others recognize and appreciate her talent and enthusiasm for it.