Andy Fuller | January 3, 2017
The voice on the public address system boomed.
“Foireann 101 damhsa ar an spól tras.”
A courtesy translation followed for the English speakers in the 2,000-seat auditorium.
“Team 101, dancing the cross reel.”
Eight members of the Notre Dame–Saint Mary’s College Irish Dance Team took the stage. Marching in a line, the four pairs stepped in coordinated time to their marks, as they had done at least a hundred times during rehearsals over the last few months. This occasion was different, of course. If that reality wasn’t obvious, they needed only glance at the brightly colored banner upstage. There, with an outline of the Emerald Isle in the middle, was the phrase that defined the special significance to the team’s next 90 seconds: “Oireachtas Rince na hÉireann” (All Ireland Dance Championships).
The middle two pairs of dancers split from the line and took several steps in rhythm stage right and stage left. The front pair turned 180 degrees with two coordinated steps, forming a square. The team smiled — for the judges, for each other.
Front feet turned out. Toes pointed. The musicians at stage right played a couple warm-up notes. For a moment, time froze.
Then the music began.