Documentary telling the story of the 40th Irish Dancing World Championships. Thousands of dancers, their families and teachers from around the world descend on Glasgow.
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'My name is Brogan McCay.'
I'm ten years old, I dance for the McConomys, Derry,
and I'm going to the Worlds for the very first time.
My name is Julie O'Rourke. I'm ten years old. I live in New York and I dance for the Petri School.
This year is my first time at the Worlds, and Brogan is my main competition there.
I'm Irish, and I really didn't know this whole world existed.
Nobody in my family's ever done Irish tap dancing - at least, as far as I know.
Maybe over in Ireland they did.
-Leza's two nieces danced.
And I used to think, "Oh, these people are insane."
They pay for flights to go to feises.
And then the wigs and all this, and I'd say "Oh, no. Crazy.
"If Brogan ever has a talent, I really hope it's not Irish dancing."
You just give up so much. Like, you could be invited to a thousand parties and you can't go,
and even, like, birthday parties for your family you have to give up.
You wouldn't throw a strop over it.
You wouldn't be like, "Oh, why do I never get to have some freedom?"
It's not that. It's like you're dedi...
when you walk in the doors to dancing,
you're dedicating your time.
And so are the dance teachers.
Hundreds of people have said, "Where did this wee thing come out of?"
I mean, she come out and you think you've seen the best.
Watch this. This IS the best.
INSTRUCTOR HUMS A BEAT
And one, two, three, four, five.
You didn't finish the five.
I make a face when I'm dancing. I open my mouth.
I go like that. Or something. I don't know.
But when I'm dancing, Rosetta'll be all,
"You look like an old-age pensioner!"
So I'd just be like, "Oh, sorry."
Well, it's just, you know, one, two, three.
You thought wrong, then. Because what you thought wasn't going on one.
Well, it was just like...
I'm dancing for my granny and my mum and daddy,
because they put so much money into it.
Like, it's unbelievable.
My friends go, "Whoa, my mummy wouldn't let me do that."
'We could be in a big house with so much furniture,
'but they have dedicated their lives to my happiness.
'I find it so, like, extraordinary.'
Any money that, you know, myself and Darren have,
it's spent on Brogan and her Irish dancing.
I haven't had a holiday since... What, 2004, did I say?
When Brogan started dancing, that's the last holiday I had.
My mummy says, "What's a talent wasted, like?"
If you have a talent, like, show everybody.
Brogan is very nice, even though she keeps beating me.
I try to do as much as she does.
I always look on YouTube to see how she's dancing
and I always try to perfect it the way she does it.
That's how I got like, my hop-overs
and, like, my front clicks, because I found out how she does it.
She has a tendency not to want to do things until she feels like
she'll look good doing it, or competitive with the other girls.
That was part of the thing we didn't realise about her.
'She was extremely quiet in the beginning. So shy, so nervous.
'So when Anne Lynn said they were going to a feis, her first dancing competition,'
-you had said, "She's really never going to get up and do it."
-"I don't know if she'll get on stage."
So I went to the competition.
They were coming out two at a time, and the next thing,
Julia stepped forward and she just performed like no-one's business.
-My mouth dropped and I called you in Ireland.
-She called me in Ireland.
-I was like, "Lisa, we've got a live one."
-Got a live one!
Hard, hard, hard, hard!
Big ending, ladies. Pick it up!
Come on, eight seconds.
Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.
'We're just doing it for some fun, it's a nice cultural thing to do.
'But she kept progressing as time went on. Then I saw the wigs,
the dresses, and it was... I was like, what's that all about?
-She's like, "Oh, that's what they do."
-They go to different states and they drive to...
I'm like, "I'm not going to go to Connecticut. I'm going to go local."
Connecticut seemed like a little much.
It's too much for me. I'm like, "No."
But you get drawn into it. She's doing well and you buy the dress.
And you get the wig and you get the shoes and you go to Ireland.
So we've gone to Scotland twice. It's crazy.
My name's Simona and I'm from London.
I'll be competing in the age 19 to 21 category at the Worlds.
My main competitors will be Suzanne from Glasgow
and Claire Greaney from Galway.
We've known Claire and Suzanne since Simona was six, cos we've always competed.
I remember Simona when I was seven, at the All Scotlands.
I didn't get the recall and she won it.
And I remember thinking, "Look at this girl. She's unbelievable."
Then Suzanne won the Worlds in Glasgow, our very first Worlds,
and that's the first time I really took notice of her and thought, "Oh, my God!"
So I suppose there's just been the three of us always in the top five.
We've been taking it in turns - it started off with me, then Suzanne and then Claire.
ANNOUNCER: We're going straight into the under 21 men's competition.
My grandparents on both sides, they're all Italian,
so I've got no Irish blood.
That was really good.
'I was really born into it.'
I started dancing when I was three.
And I'm 19 now, so 16 years.
It doesn't feel like that long, though, at all.
I'd meet Simona's mother and Suzanne's mother at the competitions
and while we'd be all secretly hoping for our own,
we wouldn't begrudge it to the others.
I don't think it's any different to anything else.
I think if you do sport, if you want to win you've got to be focused.
It becomes your life.
I mean, horse-riding people travel all over the country.
It's the same with Irish dancing.
It's just we wear wigs and funny dresses.
ANNOUNCER: A big round of applause for the top three.
I'm John and I'm ten and I've got five brothers
and I'm the only one who dances.
And this year, I'm going for the Worlds for my very first time.
My stepbrother's called Lee, and my brothers are...
The oldest is Dean, Ashley, and then it's me,
and then it's Thomas and then it's James.
I like dancing - ten out of ten.
football about two out of ten.
We're not Irish. You know, we don't know Irish dancing.
And we went to a feis and we walked in and it was like...
It was like a Shirley Temple convention, wasn't it?
There was teenagers and youngsters and they'd got the wigs on
and really brown legs. Really made-up faces, and then these wigs.
And it was like... You just find yourself, like,
staring at people for a very long time,
thinking, "I'm glad I've got a boy."
Point, two, three, four.
Squeeze and point, tense your legs.
Point your toes at the back. Ellie, you're not pointing your toes at the back.
There's quite a lot of people who tease me and call me names.
But I just ignore them and walk away, cos they don't know what they're talking about.
It's not as bad as it used to be. It used to be terrible.
People would be... You know, John'd say, "He's called me gay,"
or, you know, that lot. But we used to say, "Well, just take no notice. Just show them what you can do."
As a parent, you want to go out there and say,
"Don't call him gay. You know, Michael Flatley's not gay."
But then you have to stop yourself, because, you know.
That's Mandy. If I... I tend to go out there and throw a wobbly, so...
Lift, lift, tuck your elbows in.
Step, two, three, two, two, three, three, two, three and four.
Up and jump, up, jump.
'It's the rhythm, and the music.'
And, er, the shoes. I like the shoes.
One, two, three, four, tuck, kick, down.
When he first learned sevens, one of the first things, he was up on his toes like this
and I was like, "Oh, God, he's going to be good."
Go, stretch and one-two, up, kick. That was grand, son.
'If John was at class five times a week like his competition are,
'then I'm sure he'd be pretty much unbeatable.'
But, unfortunately, he's one of five, they're all playing football,
going in different directions, and dancing's expensive.
-My wages basically pay for John's dancing.
I go away and freeze and everything on weekends with the TA.
-And at the back of my mind...
At the back of my mind I'm thinking, "This is for John."
Upwards, down, upwards, down. Tense your body and kick, two-three,
and up and one-two, straight.
Now right up. Push, kick down. That's better.
Upper back, upper stamp, three clicks.
One, two, that's straight legs.
Stretch, push, up, kick, down. Stand point, stand point.
Tense. Pull in here, five, six, seven.
'When he hits it and when he's on form, you know, I think he's probably unbeatable.'
And a one-two, stretch, two-three, push.
Now really stretch it out. Out, out.
Yeah, that was better.
'I've been making silly mistakes and stopping.'
But hopefully this year they will all go.
He just tends to forget things and, you know,
and do something silly, or, you know, or just stop
eight bars before the end, and I'll say, "What were you thinking?" "I don't know. I forgot."
Right, who's next? Mitch.
-How are your blisters?
-All right, yeah.
-You still got your plasters on?
It is frustrating, cos he could be so good.
I think he's got the potential to win Worlds, definitely. He's a completely different dancer to Joe.
He has to have something for a long time, and when it's polished
and he knows it and it's drilled right, it looks great.
But, you know, then he might forget it anyway.
But whereas Joe, even on his worst day, will never forget it and he'll never, ever stop.
'I'd like to dance like Joe Bitter.'
..he's confident and...
..I just love the way he dances.
Stretch it out, and three, four, up and down and stretch.
Push up, and down. Pull the back leg up, shoulders back.
Stretch, stretch, two, three, four, up and down.
Dance down, one, two, three, four, up and down. Stretch.
Push up and down. Pull that back leg up and stretch.
Stretch, two, three, four, up and down, push, cross, cross, cross.
Arms back. Arms, two, three, four and one, two, stretch. Push up.
Stand point, point, stretch those legs out, beat, beat, beat.
Kicking, one, two, stretch, four, up. Shoulders, John.
Up. Up. Kicking down and stop there. Great.
'John's my best dance teacher ever.
'He's really good at dancing, as well.'
And he shouts...
..not a lot, but...
he shouts. But not loud.
Not that loud.
Keep feet turned down, toes pointed, your heels will automatically hit.
That's better. But now let's do it without the dodgy head.
Two, three, go. Treble up and toe, hop and step, kick, kick and down.
You know, I am quite hard on him. But he can take it.
You know, he never cracks. He's very... "OK".
You're getting strong on knee, toe and back. Treble and backstep,
showing me the inside of your ankle all the time. OK?
Arms tight. Five, six, seven, go.
Treble and backstep... No, come on. That's your set dance. Concentrate!
And treble and backstep, treble and cross, cross,
heel and toe sharp. Two, three, treble and toe back,
stretch it out, two, three, push, push it right up, now put it back.
Treble and toe, up and step, kick...
If I don't come in the top ten,
or a recall, or I won't...
It'll be OK, but...
it'll just show that I haven't danced my best.
Stretch your legs out, chin up.
'Nowadays, because so many people want to win,
'there's a lot of people that probably don't have a lot of natural talent,
'but have just worked so damn hard at it
'that they're actually winning because they're so technically correct.'
'So people with natural talent now have to put the work in.'
You know, there's no room for error now.
You have to be foot perfect.
Right, left, right, right, out, in, down.
'When I was growing up Riverdance and Lord of the Dance didn't exist.
'So no-one really knew about it in England.'
So yeah, I didn't really tell anybody at school that I did it.
And then after I won the World Championships, I think,
I was on the news, and then I went in school the next day
and it was like, "I saw you on the news last night". And I was like, "Did you?"
"I didn't know you did that dancing." I was like, "Oh, yeah."
I don't really talk about Irish dancing,
outside Irish dancing, like my mates from Irish dancing.
It's just normally like football and American football.
Work on your arms. Yes.
Of course. OK. Off you go.
Cross, over, over, over, over. Bring your arms back.
Don't overstrain yourself.
Cross, cross, cross.
The back foot out more, out more.
Bring this arm in tighter.
Cross. Treble up and treble.
Go for the fast ones. Back foot.
Left foot out.
He just has a complete understanding of every kind of rhythm that I throw at him.
Even from a very, very young age I was always giving him stuff
way harder than other people his age.
One, two, three. Da da da.
Cross, cross, cross. Da da da. That's better. Good.
Do that bit again.
Up, kick, kick and toe. Right up, right back.
Joe's desire to pursue dance was phenomenal.
It was living and breathing dance for him and I...
It was like a snowball that I couldn't stop.
Up. Kick, kick and toe. Kick, kick and toe.
Cross, diddly dum dum.
Yeah, that wasn't too bad, a little bit better.
Up, kick, kick and toe, kick, kick, kick and treble, and back.
That's better. Good. Much better.
There was just that intensity about him.
He'd spend seven hours in the living room with the carpets rolled up
and the furniture moved, and that reel would play over and over.
Kick, kick, kick and quiet.
Da da da da da and sharp.
When he started out, you know, he was like everybody else.
Hop, two, three. But he won the first 17 events he entered.
And he found out he was pretty good at this.
We're a lot alike, Joe and I.
So I think that it was a point in time when I realised
I had to help him manage himself without being...
I couldn't push him, let's put it that way.
But in my own way, I orchestrated things, no doubt.
I had heard rumours that this Californian boy
was thinking about moving to England to dance
and I just thought it was a little bit crazy and...
But then...you know...
dancing has grown so much that people take it so seriously -
even though there's no money involved,
it is quite prestigious and people want that world title.
We are a little mad.
So, you know, you hear about families who up and move to Florida
when they have a good tennis player.
I had a very successful medical practice.
I pretty much gave that up.
I lived in a wonderful neighbourhood of £5 million and £6 million houses.
The weather here is certainly nothing compared to California.
I know, yeah. It's always raining in this country, though. God.
Five, six, seven, heads. Move, two, three, four, five...
'When Joe first arrived from America, he was, maybe, spoilt.'
And sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp.
'He was this amazing talent from when he was young.
'Everybody told him how amazing he was all the time,'
and it was like, "You're brilliant". And he was very talented.
'And then he came to our class and it was like, "This is wrong, you're not doing this."
'It was a huge shock to his system, I don't think he liked it very much.'
And catch, no, no, no, no.
John Carey is just an amazing dancer
and teacher, choreographer, you name it.
I mean, he's won the Worlds eight times
and he's an incredible inspiration.
'I definitely have an ego in Irish dancing.
'When you're at the top, it's hard not to.'
When he tells me something, like,
sometimes I'm a little iffy with my listening.
It's interesting to see John and Joe dance together,
because, you know, I see this look in Joe's eyes, like,
"Yeah, I know, you're better than me. Give me time".
'I just want to be one of the best that's ever danced.
'As good as John Carey is.'
I want to be known for doing the rhythm and having the set dance
and people'll be like, "Joe Bitter, I remember him, he used to do those amazing set dances".
I'm Ana. I'm Russian.
I live in Moscow,
and I'm a part of a ceilidh team of eight dancers.
We are all adults.
We started Irish dancing when we were in our 20s.
You can practice a lot -
for a week, for two weeks, for two months, for a year -
and still you cannot do something.
And then one day you just go to the class
and you can do it, like magic.
And it makes you so happy, so proud.
"Wow, look here! Look, I can do it!"
I'm based in Munich and then my weekends,
I'm usually away teaching in Poland or Russia.
Over the three countries we have 500 pupils.
I've got three days of workshops
with all the dancers in the ceilidh team.
And we've got about 25 hours of classes lined up.
Hopefully, we'll be able to get the last minute practice in before the Worlds.
I think I probably spend about half of my salary Irish dancing,
because we travel to many countries. It's very expensive.
People keep asking us about Irish dancing, "Why?
"You are Russians, you live in Moscow... Why?"
And I don't know. Because I like it.
It's a game for other people.
You know, in Russia, the winter lasts about six, seven months.
It could be rather depressing.
When you come dancing, no matter what mood you are in,
you're always leaving the class in high spirits.
Only Irish dancing allows you to fly. Really, really to fly.
Chin up, Katya.
Shane is a wonderful dancer and brilliant teacher.
Up a bit more, Sasha. Up, jump, two, three.
Stop, stop, stop.
SHE SPEAKS RUSSIAN
Bom, bom, bom, bom, bom.
'I would definitely think of the Russians as the hardest-working Irish dancers I've ever met.'
You're not lifting up as high...
'They love it. The really do love it. 'And they enjoy dancing it.
'So we're really trying to brighten them up and make them show they enjoy it.'
..And four, five. Vera, you look like you're having a terrible time.
One, and two, drop three, round the feet, four.
Even that time when I was watching, it was just Vera and Ana who held this all the way throughout.
The rest of you were going through the motions.
And we need eight of you to be doing that.
Cos it can't be just one or two in the team
and the rest of you all just hanging on behind.
I want people to look at you and go, "Wow, they know what they're doing".
So I think, all the time when you're dancing,
dance it like you are world champions.
Your hands are perfected, your feet are good.
Now we need to work on the actual presentation of it.
One, and two, and three, and four,
and five and six. Katya, you look miserable.
Chins up, wait, wait, wait. We've lost the personalities.
Eight unhappy Russians.
Imagine they're hot fingers, like you can't hold onto them for too long.
Cos I saw a few times, you see, this sticky fingers.
Hands. Hot fingers, like, "Ow!"
You know, you can barely touch them. You touch them and you're gone.
Go! Up, two, three. Move it, move it.
One, two, three, four, five and go. Move, come on.
Go. Go, go, go. Go.
Move. Hot fingers.
If you are not nervous,
if you do no stupid mistake, if you look happy,
I think we have a chance to get a recall.
'Coming up for our major, I practice almost every day.
'I like the privates the most
'because you get to see what you do the best.
'They always tell you specifically, they're always watching you.
'At the private, my mom takes notes about what I have to fix.'
'She writes it down so she knows what to practice the next time.'
Oh, no, I don't get privates.
One, two, three.
Cos we're so together,
we're like one big family in a kind of way.
'The reason we don't do private lessons
'is because we've got 90% in our class who just couldn't afford it.'
'It's not fair for any of the other children,
'cos if I got private, like, my friends in my age group,'
they wouldn't get it, so it's just not right. We don't do that.
That's it. Yeah, other side.
If you do it wrong, you have to get it right.
You can't just leave it.
My mom, she's very strict about that.
There you go.
Hey, see the leaning on the shoulder? Just relax your shoulder.
Push it back and relax it.
She had been dancing on a broken foot.
And the day that her mom said that they were going to the doctor,
Julia was like, "Oh, it doesn't hurt so much."
She realised we were leaving for Scotland and she didn't want to miss it.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine...
'I remember when I hurt my foot before the All Scotland. I just moved on.'
..18, 19, 20.
My mum was like, "You can't dance",
and I was like, "Aye, I can. I can. Watch me".
'There's so many injuries coming up to the Worlds.
'It's like, unbelievable.
'My friend, she broke her leg a couple of days ago.'
And you're like, "Whoa". But luckily she's not going to the Worlds
cos she didn't qualify, but she broke her leg at dancing. You're like, "Whoa".
When I hurt my foot, that was just the best time to strengthen it
and to make it better and better for competitions.
We want to work the muscles in the lower leg as well, OK?
So the inside part of her arch...
she uses one muscle called the posterior tib.
The other muscle called the flexor hallucis longus.
-Are you having any pain over this area?
OK. Let's drape one right here.
If it gets too cold, you let me know.
Nice and supple, there's no knots in them, so that's a good thing.
Are you going to win?
It's going to be a tough competition.
OK. Well, you be confident and you have to have fun with it.
I realised how good Julia was and I thought,
"You know what, Brogan? You're not going to win this World easy".
Do it again. Step it over. Step over.
Over, step back and move.
See that? Come on, execute, looking wider.
That's it. Then go.
Stay on the grey.
'Dance classes, they've got tougher.
'Rosetta's making us do like loads and loads of jumps,
'like 2,000 and stuff.'
Up, up, stand on your toes.
Go right down... Right up.
Up and step out, Gemma.
'I have three sons, I have one daughter, and I wanted her to be a world champion.
'I didn't care if she couldn't read or write. I know a lot of people will say
that's ridiculous, her education's more important. But to me it wasn't.
Irish dancing was the most important thing in my life.
'You see her like tell you off, and you just want to work to make them happy again.'
And you want to make them proud, because they work so hard,
they take their time off.
You danced it that time. No, she danced it that time.
Wasn't just her...
Either do it right or don't do it at all.
You looked as if you were going for a walk, the two of yous.
You're not going to World dancing like that.
Get it right or take it out completely.
When Simona was tiny, it was her that wanted to do it.
Now, I probably have to push her a little bit more
because I think she's older and there's other interests.
'I started getting fed up with it. I thought, what's the point?
'Cos I really wanted to win a World.'
And when you're not getting the results, it's really hard.
She was thinking of knocking it on the head,
but didn't want to cos of me. cos she knew it would upset me.
That is way too big.
I've remortgaged twice. Not just I suppose for the dancing,
but most of the money that I earn does go on the dancing.
It looks like it matches there, but when you look at it on that...
'It's expensive. That's why I started making the costume, cos I couldn't afford to buy one.'
It's way too big.
I just checked.
That is not the same as that.
I just checked.
'When people say, "Do you win anything?", you say, "No", and they go, "Why are you doing it?"
It's not the money, you want to win the World.
I mean, if you've done Irish dancing for all those years,
the top prize that you can get is the World.
And that's what the kids strive for.
'I won the World Championships for the first time in 2002,
'when it was the first year in Glasgow.
'The next year I was second.
'And the year after that, then I won three Worlds in a row.'
Very well done. Lovely. Standing very well, Cathy. Lovely.
We had a break in the summertime, the class was closed for a month
and Suzanne and a couple of the other girls said
they couldn't wait till next Sunday for the class to reopen.
We were enjoying a month's holiday and they couldn't wait for the dancing to start again.
In fact, Suzanne had an injury about four months ago.
She was on crutches for a couple of weeks, but she came to every class.
With her crutches, yeah. Just to watch.
She was using her crutches to demonstrate wee bits of steps!
You're doing the diddly-dums, your back foot could be more out.
Yeah, thrust the heel forwards. Do that again.
Really smell it off them.
You can, yeah, yeah.
It's in the legs. The beautiful legs. Legs are so important.
I love legs. Legs are just that.
You're rushing those toes a bit.
Claire, I think, will find it hard to give up the dancing because she loves it so much.
I do think that dancing will always be a part of her life.
I don't think you'd last in this unless you love it.
No matter where you go, you'll find yourself, this kind of thing.
In mass it could be this way.
You start thinking, I lie in bed, if I can't sleep I'll start making up steps.
The duvet could be jumping up and down. That's the mental side of it.
It is my life, it is my passion.
I've sacrificed so much in my life to be an Irish dancer and to be where I am right now.
Inside that skinny little body of hers, she has such determination.
If you're at the top, the only place you can go is down.
You don't want that to happen, so there's pressure to stay at the top.
He just pulled out, did you to see that?
I did. I'm glad you saw it.
You're not turning here?
-I thought you were going straight.
-Shall I go that way?
I'd be happy if she goes to the World and dances really well.
I know she's capable of winning it.
But then that doesn't mean she will.
Claire's going wanting to keep it, because she won it last year.
Suzanne's going to go wanting to get it back and I haven't won it.
So, I just really want to win one.
I'm Sandun, I'm this Sri Lankan guy who lives in Holland
and I'm an Irish dancer.
They call me the Flying Dutchman and I want people to say this year,
"the Flying Dutchman is in the top five of the world."
When you go to Irish dance class or to a feis, you step into this other world.
I really see it like that.
The first time I looked at Irish dancing was Riverdance,
and I didn't like it at all.
Then I took home a video and he watched it three times a day, four times a day, five times.
Like little kids watch cartoons, the Lion King.
He watched Riverdance.
It's like a drug. Irish dance is like a drug.
Top sport is not good for your body.
You get injuries everywhere.
But at the same time it gives you this nice feeling.
He's absolutely determined, if he wants to.
He can also be a lazy bastard.
I would be seeking thrills everywhere.
I think I probably, you know, if someone will be like, "Hey,
"take this joint," or, "Take this little pill," I'd do it.
But now, I want to, you know, perform good
and you can't do that with drugs or an over amount of alcohol.
I know he's the only boy in the school.
You have no-one else to compare yourself with during classes.
You have to do it all by yourself.
He's made his own mix, because he's cocky enough to think that he knows best for himself.
-And really cocky!
And what is very funny is Irish dancing is a girl's sport.
More, it's a white girl's sport. You don't see coloured people in Irish dancing.
I know there are thousands of people and I've seen five coloured people, something like that.
And he feels perfectly comfortable because people accept him for what he does dancing,
and not for who he is, coloured or non-coloured.
Being adopted, for Sandun, it's very difficult.
Because he grows up in a white environment, being a child of white parents
and that's not how it should've been.
He should've grown up in Sri Lanka with his own parents.
Being given up by your own mum, that's not easy to cope with.
We had really rough times when he was younger,
that's why Irish dancing was very important to us.
Something that made him feel very good by himself.
Even in the rougher moments of our lives,
we went to dance practice and it always made it right again.
And that's been a difficult path.
It's not been impossible, but...
..Sandun has many interests,
and now he's gone to puberty, and it's not helping to be...
Yeah, he wants to go out and stay up late and drink.
That's very normal for teenagers, but that doesn't combine very well with top sport.
I don't want to be like, "Sandun came, he got 7th and that was it."
No, I want to be like, "Sandun got 10th, then he got 7th,
"he got top five, then he got top three."
Yeah, number one.
I was born in Glasgow and it's funny for me to be here
at the 40th World Championships and be hosting the event.
There'll be somewhere just over 6,000 competitors.
It brings in all through the week, 20, 30,000 people.
And everything culminates here in three 35-second performances, if you're lucky.
Some only get to perform twice at this event and you get called.
Only 50 people get to do the last round.
So, really, all these children are practicing all year round for six minutes of dancing.
This morning he was up at half five
and tomorrow he's bound to wake up as well early.
He's got that excitement and nervousness all rolled into one.
He's like a coiled spring.
When we get to the hotel, are we going to practice a little?
No practicing, no. Just do stretching, a little stretch.
Yeah, that's what's I mean.
-Yeah, no, no dancing.
-A day off.
Looks gorgeous. Really beautiful.
Costumes cost 2,500 American dollars.
-You have to see the hair band.
-Oh, that's perfect.
-You like it?
-Yeah, that's perfect.
'She got a new dress in July.'
She's worn it four times maybe.
No, more than that. At the little Feis, you mean.
-With the white skirt.
-Uh-huh. Four times?
-Yeah, you're kidding.
OK, I don't know, I thought it was more than that.
See this white, like it's that really shiny.
-Yeah, shiny, yeah.
-It's almost like iridescent.
-And you have socks that are diamante, right?
-Obviously. A silly question.
Feel comfortable? All righty?
This last year, Brogan hasn't had it easy because Mum passed away.
Mum was diagnosed with cancer in June,
so Brogan was finishing up school in the June.
We moved more or less up to Sligo for that summer.
My granny was just so, so ill. It was unbelievable.
She was all like oxygen and everything, it was just so, so sad.
But like every day, she would, like, be saying to me, "do your best."
So, like, I'm...
I know she would've just wanted me to do my best.
So I just kept going to qualify for the World.
The Ulsters was a big thing this year because this was her qualifier for the Worlds.
For about the week before Mum died, we knew she was really, really sick.
She was going, "Rosetta, I have to just qualify for the World
"to go back and tell Granny so she can die."
Brogan won and then I rang my sister in Sligo who was in the hospital with Mum.
I said, "just whisper to her now that she's won and she's going through to the Worlds."
And...I went back up home and that morning she died then.
It was like she just wanted to find out did I qualify and then like rest.
I was sad, but I was excited to hear that she found out.
Everybody was like so upside down like and it was terrible, but we pulled through.
Push those knees down flat.
Stomach's should be flat down on your thighs. Push down.
And relax your top half.
You're dancing fabulous, I'm really, really happy.
My dress is so special to me.
My granny bought it for me and I say she's always dancing with me.
She got me this dress and she's my wee guardian angel and all.
It's not really about dresses but, um, it will make me feel confident.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now ready to commence competition 31.
The Girl's Championship, 10 to 11 years.
Competitors 177, 178 and 179.
Competitors 118, 120 and 121.
That's beautiful. That's really, really good.
-Where's Lisa and Karen?
-They're in there, did you want to talk to them?
Are you happy now? It was beautiful. Beautiful.
One and two, four...
Up two, three, four, five, six, seven
and turn, three, four, five and hat, leap up.
'The first round is in heavy shoes. It's all about rhythm and moving.'
Their second round is a soft shoe round.
It's more about lifting, it's quite balletic, maybe.
A lot of flying around the floor, high kicks and jumps.
Then the marks are added up for those two rounds
and the best third are recalled back to do their set dance
and it's in heavy shoes again
It's basically your showpiece to show off what you can do.
The night before a competition I sleep with these two
and this one's usually at the end of the bed.
This one's usually by the pillows
but...they keep me warm
And his tooth fell out, didn't it?
Trying to open a bottle.
Put it under your pillow.
I'm up at six in the morning and I go to the venue at seven.
Now John has to go through the steps.
My New Year's resolution was that I'm going to concentrate.
He's just a little fire cracker.
Everyone's, "Oh, you're a cheeky fellow. I love watching him dance,
"he's so good." I was, "Yeah, when he doesn't stop, he's brilliant."
Concentrate on what you're doing. Think about your head.
Think about your left foot
and think about pushing that click above your head.
Our first competitors, numbers 104, 105 and 106.
-Was that good?
-Yeah, really good.
He'll probably stay brilliant, hopefully.
I can breathe now.
He's smiling a lot.
I did watch him in one of the feises and I thought he danced brilliant
and the guy next me said, "He's won, he's won."
Well, he came third or second and I got a bit annoyed about that.
I thought, you know, "They've got it wrong!"
But I don't know, so...
They know what they're doing at the front, the judges, I presume.
Each band will be judged by a different group of five judges
and those judges have 100 points to award to the first place winner.
You put them in here because our art form's very subjective.
We don't encourage consultation,
They're can't speak about the competition
and they are very heavily policed.
So we actually have a system where our judges are chaperoned.
We don't have such a thing as fault penalties.
We try not to restrict the judge.
At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to personal taste.
She's got the whole of her family coming over.
There's been visa problems so a few of them have been denied their visas
to come into the country.
One of the things we were trying to do was to make the team stand out
on the stage like they deserve to be there.
Then they're told they're not allowed to come into the country.
They've just been beaten down, you know, for no reason at all
and it'll be hard to get them to give that energetic performance
that we were hoping we would see on the stage this time.
And we all tried to do it, not just for ourselves,
dancing on the stage, but also for the guys who stayed in Moscow.
And as Anna, the girl who stayed in Moscow she wrote us,
"Do your best, dance good for me."
We'll try to do it for her as well.
Instead of kind of getting knocked down, give it more of a push.
From today and tomorrow, when we're doing all the practices,
keep that focus, keep that drive. Let's do it.
One and two, nice dancing, stretch it up and back and four
and five and six and seven and eight. Where's the faces?
We're now ready to commence the second round
of the Girls' Under-11 Championship.
On stage now we have 120 and 121.
173 and 174.
-Thank you, Daddy.
-Oh, thank you.
I thought she just flew round there like a bird.
Were you content with yourself with the way you danced?
You couldn't have done any better. We're so proud of you.
And the next event will be competition number six.
Boys 15 to 16 age group.
And now we have 105 and 104, in that order.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
OK and just do the best you can, because you deserve to up there.
OK? You've got that. Are you ready?
-I am just going to read you the recall in numerical order.
SHE SPEAKS RUSSIAN
151, 152, 159.
Just so nervous, it's a nervy time.
-Yeah, my hands are sweating.
Well, battle on and you'll be even better next year.
Yeah? OK. Let's have a drink.
The competition is really tough.
The top three is like, they're like Titans. You just can't move them.
Between number four and eight is about the same level
and then the first three are a little step higher.
So it could be between fourth and eighth, I think.
But he has to see improvement. If he becomes eighth this year,
that's going to be a huge disappointment.
Next, we have the results for competition number five.
Boys 16 to 17.
1,026.5 and 614.5.
HE SPEAKS DUTCH
In tenth place, from the Netherlands
is number 145, Sandun Verschoor.
HE SPEAKS DUTCH
Well, still medal holder.
Really terrible, because I came for fifth place or top five
and I got tenth. That really sucks.
Should I continue doing this?
But what would I do if I won't be dancing?
I'm not that kind of person who will go to university, you know.
No, not for me. I need to finish something, you know,
and that's going to be dancing.
You know, when she's on form, she's on form
and I just never know with Simona.
She's beaten all the other girls at different times and competitions.
Dee, dee, dee, dee, dee, dee...
Lift, foot out and down...
So hopefully this year. We're due a good World.
Oh, it's just only a split second. If it hurts, it's a split second.
What I've been doing is just dancing my steps through my head.
And half the time I can't get to sleep.
I'll finish my set dance then have to go back to my jig and start again.
It actually ends up keeping me awake about an hour longer when I should be sleeping,
but I'll probably do that for a wee half hour and then go to sleep.
I do it too!
I lie in bed doing her dances.
I would love for her to win in Glasgow, again.
And that's her drive. That's her motivation for this year.
ACCORDION MUSIC PLAYS
Wow, wow, wow!
That was amazing.
Oh my God, that was so amazing, Suzie.
Just absolutely gorgeous.
You smiled the whole way through! It was just gorgeous. Well done.
You're waiting, you're anxious and hoping that
everything will go well for her. All I ask, really,
is that she'll have three good rounds,
she danced the way she can dance and then it's out of our hands
I'm probably seen as the one to beat,
because I'm one of the last three.
So it's just...it is a lot of pressure, because you just,
you can't disappoint and there's so many in the competition that are so good.
There's 166 hoping to beat you.
Bam...bam, bam, bam.
And bang and bang, timing. Da-de, de-da.
I'm going to do what I usually do.
ACCORDION MUSIC PLAYS
It's OK, it's all right.
It wasn't her fault. The girl was there.
They were literally like that. She handled it well.
'Adjudicators. There is no 196.
'On stage they have 197 and 198.'
-It was good I did a nine.
-You hit a pillar!
You couldn't go anywhere but into her.
Well, we just saw each other coming, but we were both doing something,
we couldn't move out of the way and I was just like...
-We kind of just... Two of us just went...
'Cos I really, really want to win.'
I'm getting old now as well. I ain't got much longer,
so I need to win it soon if I'm going to win it.
Yeah. 14 years we've waited, so...
..would be nice to do it, but we'll see.
'Competitor 148, Rambling Rake - speed 76.'
I hope she wins the speed.
Good girl. Very good.
-She looks worried.
-She looks worried.
'We now have the ladies, 19 to 21 years.'
That's not good this time.
-Have you got it?
-Claire, Maggie, Suzanne, I think.
'In fourth place, competitor 148 -
Up and stretch. And one, two, three, kick and up, point your toes, point up.
Treble and toe back.
'With John, I'm like, let's do the same thing and let's go over it again
'to make sure you've got it in your head.
'Have you got it in your head? And I deliberately don't change anything.'
'This is the final round of the world championships.
'Next is Number 104.'
'Stretch, 1, 2, 3. Right arm. Down, treble, push, up,'
kick, down, cross and watch your head.
Treble back and toe, spin, cross, cross
and triple and toe, down, double click.
'2, 3, treble upper stamp, stamp down,
cross, cross, cross and on toes. Spin.
And triple and toes. Hold. Stretch, 1, 2, 3...
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
'Next is number 105.'
Well done, John.
Well done, John! Oh, I love you.
-This one, the big one, that was good. Good, really good.
At least that's over, anyway, you can relax for a little bit. Well done.
'We're now ready to give results of the boys 10 and under-11 championship.
'Number 102, round one.
'Round two, from the top.
Oh, dear, that's not as good.
-Is he still winning?
-Still winning, I think. Just about, I think.
No, he's not still winning now.
'Round three, from the top.
-How we doing?
-I don't know.
-I think he might win. I think so.
-He's done it.
Oh, I don't know. Don't tell her yet.
'Here's the following totals from the top again.'
Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. It's close.
I think it's really close. I don't know,
I can't add it up. I don't know.
-I don't know, maybe. It's close.
-This is it.
Yes, he won it!
SCREAMING AND CHEERING
'In first place...
SCREAMING AND CHEERING
Oh, my God!
Thank you, Dad.
Shall I pass you back on to Mum?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
'When Joe does a set dance, the whole hall is silent.'
John told me at the beginning of it and I was just like,
"Oh, my God, this is so hard," like,
but I just loved it cos I knew if I would get it,
it would be one of the best sets I've ever done.
We're waiting for Joe Bitter's set
cos we've been watching him and he's amazing.
'There's nothing simple about it.'
If I nail every beat, it'll be one of the best sets anyone's ever done.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
He made me cry. It was the best set I have ever seen.
Oh, thank you very much, thank you. Thank you.
Absolutely a masterpiece.
I was actually starting to cry. Look at me!
You set the pace for the competition and they've to live up to it.
Everything you've got, baby. All right, love you.
'Ladies and gentlemen,
'we are ready to commence competition 31.
'Recall set dance.'
-Do you have to go up?
-Yeah... Good luck.
'dancing the Three Sea Captains.'
'Let's be fair to all the competitors
'and the judges, who are concentrating and focusing.'
'Competitor number 177,
'dancing Drunken Gauger, speed 69.'
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.
It was gorgeous.
-(Was it on time?)
-It was perfectly on time.
'Now the result of girls 10 to 11 years.
(Yes, I'm winning!)
-'And now from the top...'
-Never mind, babe.
-(What's she going to give me?)
(My god, I'm first!)
'And now round three from the top.
'119 and 204...
It's OK. You're either first or second.
Do you know how good that is?
They're over the moon over there.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
'In first place, competitor 121.'
SCREAMING AND APPLAUSE
'Second place, 177.'
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I did it.
I'm so happy.
Thank you. Congratulations. You too.
-Thank you. You too. I'm so happy.
I wasn't expecting it. I thought you were going to win.
MUSIC DROWNS SPEECH
This is my little wish calendar,
which I write down all my expectations for each month.
So, March I wrote, "The big month".
I said, "I really hope I win the Worlds this year.
"I've been under so much stress and hard work
"and I would really like this title."
I do really want it, but I don't mind if I don't get it.
They're just my own wee wishes in my own wee world.
'In first place we have competitor 121,
'Julia O'Rourke, Petri School, New York, USA.'
'In second place,
'let's hear it for competitor 177.
'Brogan McCay, McConomy School Derry, Northern Ireland.'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Award-winning filmaker Sue Bourne goes behind the normally closed doors of the world of competitive Irish dance in a documentary telling the story of the 40th Irish Dancing World Championships. Thousands of dancers, their families and teachers from around the world descend on Glasgow for seven drama-filled days.