Eleven dancers from the Steel School of Irish Dance will compete in the 2017 World Championships in Dublin

Local Irish dancers to compete in world championships

"Luck of the Irish" revealed to be hard work, dedication.

The Steel School of Irish Dance has done it again.

Last year the school, which operates out of Cloverdale and White Rock, qualified a record six dancers to qualify for the World Championships in Glasgow Scotland. This year, they have 11.

During the Nov. 12th weekend in Calgary at the Western Canadian Dance Championships, the dance school not only qualified 11 dancers for the World Championships held in Dublin, Ireland in April 2017, they also qualified their highest number yet for the upcoming 2017 North American Championships in New Orleans in July, where the school will have 27 Steel dancers competing.

It just keeps getting better for the little school from Surrey, a school that is on the rise in the world of Irish dance. The 11 World qualifiers—and their current local schools—are: Belle Heritage (Johnston Heights), Brianna Kraft (Earl Marriott Secondary), Mikaela Barton (graduate of Sullivan Heights), Calleigh McLaughlin (Clayton Heights). From South Surrey are Annika and Lauren Olson (Earl Marriott Secondary) and Charli Olson (Laronde Elementary).

Joining these local girls will be Thalia Blaskovich of Langley, and Sabine Alexander, Jadyn McInnes-Thorpe and Cataline Gillies from Richmond.

The Steel School of Irish Dance was founded in 1981 in Vancouver by Carol Del Bianco. The school was small at first—enrollment was sometimes as low as four students—and eventually the school moved to the basement of Del Bianco’s home in Newton.

But that was over 30 years ago. Today, the school is ran by Del Bianco’s daughter, Jacquelyn Hardychuk, and has expanded to offer classes in Cloverdale, Surrey and White Rock. Hardychuk, who is also the school’s primary instructor and choreographer, oversees over 100 students.

“It was a very hard feat in the early years to qualify dancers for major national championships,” said Hardychuk. “On average, we would have about one to three dancers qualify for worlds and maybe up to 10 for nationals.”

Hardychuk’s co-director and former world-qualifier herself, Megan Huculiak, also teaches dance at the school. Both women have high praise for the work ethic and dedication that their dancers have for their craft.

“We focus on nurturing a love of dance,” said Hardychuk. “If you don’t love what you’re doing, then you’ll likely never reach your full potential.”

Each dancer is approached with an individual teaching technique, as the instructors are of the philosophy that each student has both natural strengths and weaknesses. Hardychuk said the focus on individual improvement builds confidence as well as a skill set.

“And confidence,” Hardychuk said, “is what competition needs the most.”

When Huculiak teaches students, she focuses on developing physical strength and technical perfection, but she, like Hardychuk, insists that building confidence in her students is vital.

“We teach our students how to perform their best in pressure situations,” she said. “Competitive Irish dance also teaches vital life skills such as goal setting, time management and how to deal with both success and disappointment.”

Huculiak said dancers take these skills with them into other areas of their lives as they move through adolescence to young adulthood.

“There are few, if any, monetary rewards to aim for in Irish dance,” she said. “Their reward is to prove to themselves that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.”

With so many young dancers qualifying for world and national level championships, it’s clear that they’ve set their minds to be the very best that they can be.

– Gary McLaughlin for Steel School of Irish Dance

Just Posted

Grieving mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Stay home, cats – only pet dogs are OK to attend ‘Cat Walk’ at Surrey park

Surrey Community Cat Coalition’s second annual fundraiser planned Saturday

White Rock’s Mueller wins World Series of Poker bracelet

Third career WSOP win for former professional hockey player

Surrey high school teacher receives Loran award

First ever to be given to Surrey teacher, district says

ZYTARUK: Canal isn’t Surrey’s first ‘different’ idea

Anyone up for waterskiing in Doug’s Ditch?

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Metro Vancouver’s air quality could be the worst yet this wildfire season

As wildfire season approached, Metro Vancouver experts predict the air will be an issue for many

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Update: Multiple fires along the railway tracks in Pitt Meadows

CP rail has closed tracks while firefighters work

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read

l -->