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

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

All nine White Rock Renegades softball teams are set to take part in the Canadian Pride and Power Tournament, scheduled for July 1-4. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Renegades set to host multi-team Pride and Power softball tournament

‘There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the park,’ said Greg Timm

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Doris Anderson’s digital triptych Aberration, which she is marketing as an NFT.
Semiahmoo Peninsula abstract painter dives into NFT market

Works sold as one-of-a-kind digital files

Hundreds gathered at Surrey’s Holland Park Friday (June 11) in memory of the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on Sunday (June 6). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Hundreds gather at Surrey park in memory of victims in London attack

Vigil organized by Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians

Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Teacher’s elbow injury case against Surrey School District, WorkSafeBC struck by judge

Judge says processes put in place by legislation, collective agreement must be followed

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read