One University of Kentucky law student will be dancing an Irish jig in Dublin this weekend after working on perfecting it for almost a year.
Madison Stewart, 23, a Lexington Catholic High School graduate, has been practicing Irish dance for 14 years. Now, she will compete in the World Championships of Irish Dance on Saturday. She will perform two dances and, if she gets enough points from the judges, will perform a third.
“We work so hard to make it look easy, and its much harder than people think it is,” Stewart said. “You spend a lot more time doing it than people suspect.”
Stewart fell in love with Irish dance after seeing Irish dancers at Busch Gardens when was 8-years-old, she said. The music made an impression, Stewart said. She found it more rhythmic and music-oriented than ballet, another form of dance she tried, along with hip-hop, jazz and tap.
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“I like danced out of the lobby at Busch Gardens,” Stewart said. “I was 8, so that was acceptable back then.”
She and her family moved to Lexington after the trip. Then, her parents saw an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader for McTeggart School of Irish Dance. Stewart has been studying Irish dance with the school ever since.
Learning both the dances and studying law has been a tough balancing act, Stewart said. “It’s something that you take hour-by-hour,” she said.
Stewart qualified for world competition in November at the Mid-America Oireachtas competition in Chicago. She has been practicing the routines for both competitions since last April. Then, she traveled to Texas to learn the dances with choreographer Rosemary Ellis.
Stewart thinks her age group will be the largest category at the world competition. “There are more people (dancing) than you’d expect,” she said.
The Irish Dancing World Championship takes place through April 16 in Dublin and attracts thousands of dancers from throughout the world who participate in several styles of Irish dance.
Stewart is not the McTeggart School’s first dancer to compete at the “Worlds,” as those familiar with the competition call it. She’s one of three. Allison Duvall, a teacher of Stewart’s, qualified when she was the same age as Stewart.
Duvall describes Stewart as hard working and humble.
“Madison is one of the most determined and dedicated students that I have ever had the privilege to teach” Duvall said. “She works her tail off. She’s dogged in her determination to get it right. ”
Stewart plans on dancing as long as she can, but wants to be a lawyer as a career.