Shelly Hathaway, From Preliminary to Open Championship

Article featured in Diddlyi Magazine.

Hi everyone! I’m Shelly Hathaway. I’m a Preliminary Championship Irish dancer from The Shelley School of Irish Dance in Cedar Hills, Utah. I’ve been dancing for a little over six years now.

I always wanted to be a dancer, but all the styles of dance I discovered weren’t quite what I was looking for. Then one day I was watching PBS and Riverdance came on. I was entranced! The style of dance was amazing. A little while later I found the nearest TCRG certified school in Utah and began learning the basics at the Shelley School. I was 20 at the time so I spend the next few years training with the adult class.

I’m of the opinion you’re never too young to start anything so I wasn’t discouraged from starting so late in life. I practiced constantly over the next few years, so excited to get to the next level. Every time Tina Shelley taught us new steps it was like like unwrapping a chocolate bar. I loved every step and would watch the Championship dancers with stars in my eyes.

Finally after 3 years of dancing, I reached Preliminary Championship level. For about two years I trained and perfected steps as best I could. I won 6th or even 4th place a few times at the Utah and Boise Feis and was happy to have placed. As I began my 3rd year in Prelim however, I realized if I ever wanted to learn the more advanced steps taught only in Open championship, I would have to find a way to really stand out at a feis.

In order to compete in Open, as many of you know, I have to win 1st place at two feiseanna. So last January I made a goal to get into Open THIS YEAR. Since then I’ve gone to 8 Feiseanna in six months. It’s been a lot of fun traveling from city to city and seeing a lot of the same faces along the way. In April of this year I finally won my very first, 1st place in Preliminary Championship at Feile Denver. It was a very unreal experience and I couldn’t believe I’d half-way reached my goal!

Since then I’ve won 2nd place and 3rd place twice, not to mention a 7th and a 4th or two. But I am working hard to perfect my dances so I can get that second 1st place this year and begin training in Open championship. This September I will have two more chances at Longs Peak Feis in Colorado, and Boise Feis by the River. Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

TAGS: certified, championship, competition, dance, Denver, Feile, feis, feiseanna, Hathaway, Irish, Irish Dance, Open, Preliminary, Riverdance, Shelley school, Shelly, TCRG, Tina, Utah

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