photo by Elizabeth Worley
On most days, Junior Marin Worley appears to be a typical high school student going to classes and doing homework, but since she was in second grade, Worley has transformed into her elaborate Irish dance uniform for performances and competitions.
You may have seen Irish dancers in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. Their custom uniforms can cost thousands of dollars and include trademark wigs featuring long curls. The beautiful embroidery and detailing on the dresses and the trademark wigs have become what audiences expect, but Worley admits that they are not the most comfortable uniforms. Despite this, she notes, “The uniforms have gotten more comfortable through the years.”
It was Worley’s older cousins who originally inspired her to start Irish dancing herself. Although she has been Irish dancing competitively for most of her life, she has tried other styles of dance like ballet. But it is Irish dancing that Worley stuck with. It’s the technical aspect of the genre that she likes. “You can always improve your skills and you are always moving and are able to learn new things and tricks,” shares Worley.
The technical details of Irish dance make the competitions very complex. To prepare for competition, dancers need to be patient and practice to get every move and skill just right. The competitive dances are short: one to three minutes long, and every move is scrutinized.
There are weekly competitions for both solo and group dances that are typically a day long, but three to four times each year, Worley competes during more lengthy competitions.
During the weekend of November 29, Worley competed with her dance school, Lavin Cassidy at the MidAmerica Oireachtas, in Louisville, Kentucky. She placed 24th overall out of about 200 solo dancers.
Worley says competing solo is “nerve-wrecking” but she thinks that there are pros to dancing alone, too. She states, “When you’re by yourself you rely on yourself only. Working as a team to complete is harder than working by yourself.”
Worley plans to continue competing for now, but is unsure about where dance will take her after high school. In the meantime, congratulations to student by day and competitive Irish dancer by weekend!