When Irish Toes Are Tapping

West Geauga Sophomore Dances to an Irish Tune


Irish Dance 2018

Imagine traveling to a state you’ve never been to or a country where you can’t even speak the native language ! Imagine being only a young child, as your mom kisses your cheek and sends you off to perform in front of hundreds of people. You see the faces and eyes of people you couldn’t have even imagined staring up at you and judging your every move. Meanwhile, you’re left only with a dance routine, (hopefully) completely etched into your head, awaiting the oncoming music. You force a smile onto your cheeks and pray your kicks will reach their expected height ! If you can imagine that, you’ve just stepped into Shannon McKinney’s world: the world of competitive Irish dancing.

Shannon McKinney is a 16 year old sophomore here at West Geauga, living the average life, like most everyone else, here at our school. Three nights per week, however, she leaves her house to practice a traditional dance that originated in Ireland. McKinney has been practicing this form of the arts for 8 years now. In that time period, she has won a large variety of medals, too.

She has competed in the Senior Dance Drama, where she placed first with her team in Montreal at the World Championship in 2015. The second award she holds dear is when she placed second in Junior Girls Ceili at 2015 Midwest Regionals. Most recently, McKinney has been crowned 28th at “All Irelands,” qualifying her for the World Championships as an individual. She wouldn’t even dream about stopping here, though. “I plan on dancing or teaching dance, hopefully, for the rest of my life,” she said.

McKinney developed her love for Irish dance at the age of 8 after practicing ballet for a few years. She currently is attending The Academy Irish Dance Company in Columbus after switching through schools and finding which one suited her best over the past several years. She and her family were at an Irish festival one day when they spotted a team of Irish dancers; this spiked Shannon’s interest. The teacher of the school dancing that day recommended them to an Irish dance school, and Shannon hasn’t stopped moving ever since that day. She quit ballet to fully commit to Irish dance, and, despite the fact that she devotes all her time to dancing, she still manages to keep her grades up.

Shannon is an honor roll student, who also works to be a part of the “full high school experience by also participating in clubs like Academic Decathlon and having a schedule packed with honors classes and an AP class as well.