Students stay in step with Irish dance at Teelin studio

As the thunderous sound of Irish hard shoes dancing filled the room, Teresa Eade sat on a stool in the corner, watching intently.

The 15-year-old sophomore at South Carroll High School was recovering from a concussion she received over the weekend playing dodge ball, but that didn't prevent her from participating in the first half of the rehearsal at Teelin School for Irish Dancing.

And it also wasn't going to keep her from performing with Teelin on Sunday, March 11, when the Columbia-based studio — and several of its Carroll County members — were scheduled to perform in Baltimore's annualSt. Patrick's DayParade, slated to start at 2 p.m.

"I'm excited about the parade," Eade said. "I did it last year. It's a lot of fun."

Founded 10 years ago, Teelin School for Irish Dancing offers its 300 students opportunities to perform and to compete. The school is also scheduled to host a show on March 24 at 3 p.m. at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster.

The troupe is directed by Maureen Gately, who won the 2009 Individual Artist Award for Dance Choreography presented by the Maryland State Arts Council. The group has performed at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in Washington, the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore and on the main stage of the Maryland Irish Festival, among other venues.

Like many of the troupe's dancers, Eade enjoys performing and the opportunities for competition.

"I do ballet, hip hop, jazz and a little tap, all at my school," said Eade, nodding to the dancers. "(Irish dance) is hard, but fun. I like doing the steps and learning new things."

She started Irish dancing when she and a few friends formed a club at her elementary school, St. John's Catholic School in Frederick, when she was 8.

"I stuck with it, and went to a real school [for Irish dance]," said Eade, who was at another studio before joining Teelin a year ago.

"I think competition is my favorite part," Eade said. "The hard work pays off. I like meeting new people at the competitions and getting all dressed up. It's a lot of fun."

Saoirse DeBoy, 12, and her brother Patrick, 10, also enjoy performing and competing. The Mount Airy siblings are both decorated dancers, and Saoirse is preparing to compete at the World Finals in Ireland the end of this month.

"This will be the third time I'm competing at Worlds," Saoirse said proudly. Dancing for six years now, she became interested in it after seeing an Irish dance show.

"I really liked it," Saoirse said of the show. "I did ballet and it was a change. It was a real cool change."

Saoirse has competed across the United States, and has even performed in Scotland.

"I love the fast feet movements and flying up in the air," she said. "I have to practice almost every day."

Her younger brother, Patrick, used to mimic her when she danced, Saoirse said. Now, she helps him.

"It's fun to see him at competitions," Saoirse said of Patrick. "I help him practice before he goes on, so he won't get nervous."

As for Patrick, he has one main goal.

"I want to go to Worlds," he said, simply.

The Teelin Irish Dance Company will perform Saturday, March 24, at 3 p.m., at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St.., Westminster. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for arts council members, seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 410-848-7272.

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