A Landmark Performance

Abby Gruner, Editor

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     This year the first ceili (“ceili” means group dance) team from the state of Wyoming competed at the World Championships of Irish dance. This year the event was held in Greensboro, North Carolina. This team of eight was from the only certified Irish dance school in the state of Wyoming, the Richens/ Timm Academy (RTA) of Irish dance. RTA has been stationed here in Casper for almost 10 years.

     It has been the dream of Anné Donovan, the founder of the dance school’s branch in Casper, to send a team to worlds. The World Championships of Irish dance are usually held oversees in Ireland or Scotland, so when it was announced that the compettion would be in the US, Donovan began making plans to send a team.

     This may have been the first time a ceili team from Wyoming was sent to the World Championships, but it wasn’t the first time a soloist from the Wyoming branch of RTA competed at the competition. This was 13-year-old Ella Catchpole’s third World Championships. Only 2% of Irish dancers ever qualify to compete at the World Championships so just getting to compete at the competition is an accomplishment. However, for Catchpole just being there wasn’t enough. At her first World Championships she placed 33rd out of over 150 of the best dancers her age in the world, so she knew she had the capabilty of placing well. Catchpole ended up placing 32nd out of 168 and was the top dancer from the Western region of the US.

     Two other boys from Wyoming, Konnor Barthlama (13) and Thomas Gorman (age 10) also competed as soloists in the 2019 World Championships.

     The eight dancers from Casper competed in the Girl’s 13-16 Junior Ceili competition. In this competition every team dances their first dance then the top half of the teams are recalled to dance a second dance and get placed at an awards ceremony. From the start Donovan made sure her team knew that achieving a recall was the ultimate goal and that if the team focused and did their best to improve the dance, they would have a chance of reaching this goal.

     RTA is based in Columbus, Ohio and has several branches of the school throughout Ohio and Indiana. Before the 2019 World championships no team from any branch of RTA had recalled at the World championships in 25 years. The team from Wyoming made history by recieving a recall and placing 31/74.