Belfast Telegraph

Belfast welcomes top Irish dancers

By Marie Foy
09 February 2005

High kicks, pumps, jigs and reels set the scene today at the all-Ireland Irish dancing championships in Belfast.

Around 3,000 dancers are due to attend the six-day feis at the Waterfront Hall, which runs until Saturday.

Belfast is hosting the championships - the biggest Irish dancing competition outside the World Championships - for the first time.

The city previously held the World Championships in 2002 and last year, and will be called on to do the honours again next year.

More than half the entrants hail from beyond Ireland - some from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. The event also represents a welcome bonanza for Belfast's economy with many hotels and guesthouses booked up.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Tom Ekin said: "By successfully bringing the competition to Belfast, the city is once again proving that it is more than capable of staging high-quality, world-class events."

Vice-president of the Irish Dancing Commission's Canadian branch Paula Woodgate said the world-wide success of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance had placed Irish dance on the international stage.

"Irish dance is now seen as an art form as opposed to simply a cultural tradition, and appreciation of the stage shows has taken the dance to a new horizon."

For information, call 003531 475 2220 or visit www.clrg.ie

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