So­phiedanc­ing her­way­to­thetop ofthe­world

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - By ALI­SON COMYN

WHEN a nine-year-old So­phie Reilly took her first class in Ir­ish danc­ing in Scoil Aongusa lit­tle did she know that six years later, she would be ranked fourth in the world, and take her first in­ter­na­tional ti­tle in North Amer­ica!

And to round up an al­ready suc­cess­ful year, the Green­hills TY stu­dent is now ap­pear­ing on the cover of Ir­ish Danc­ing Mag­a­zine’s lat­est edi­tion, with a four-page fea­ture in­side.

“It’s so funny, be­cause the last Drogheda per­son to ap­pear on the cover was my dance teacher David Moore, and now I’m there,” says the softly spo­ken girl from Hil­lview, Drogheda.

“David was the first per­son to give me a les­son, and he said to me right from the start that I had good rhythm and could nat­u­rally pick up the beat of the mu­sic, so he was a great en­cour­age­ment to me to con­tinue.”

It’s clear her teacher is very proud of So­phie.

“What So­phie has man­aged to achieve, against all odds and in such a short time span is truly, rare and won­der­ful,” David tells the Drogheda In­de­pen­dent. “She is a real trea­sure. A won­der­ful ex­am­ple to her peers and a great as­set to any class. I am proud and hon­oured that she is a part of mine and be­lieve she de­serves ev­ery ac­co­lade that comes her way. Like ev­ery, Cham­pion, So­phie, was a be­gin­ner who sim­ply never gave up!”

So­phie’s first Feis was just a year af­ter her first les­son, and even on her de­but, she man­aged to win both her classes.

“I re­mem­ber it well, as it was on May 19th, 2013, and I was only 10 and very ex­cited to be danc­ing,” she says. “I had a black leo­tard and or­ange skirt, and it was the first time I danced in a wig, which was odd, but it was only years later I re­alised how hard it was to win both grades at your first com­pe­ti­tion,” she ex­plains.

The list of com­pe­ti­tions and ti­tles that So­phie has won in the mean­time would fill the rest of this page, but some of her most mem­o­rable are plac­ing third in the u14s at the World Cham­pi­onships in 2017, first place in the Ul­ster Re­gion­als last year and then tak­ing her first In­ter­na­tional ti­tle at the North Amer­i­can Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in the u15s in Or­lando just a few weeks ago.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing stand­ing on a podium at a world cham­pi­onship, and there’s just such an elec­tric at­mos­phere, and a ca­ma­raderie amongst the dancers, de­spite what peo­ple might think!” she says.

“I have made so many friends for life, and it’s def­i­nitely worth all the hard work.”

And hard work there is! So­phie dances al­most ev­ery day and like an ath­lete, gets up at 6am to do two hours be­fore school.

“You re­ally have to trust your teach­ers and be­lieve in your­self that you can do it too.”

So­phie has great sup­port at home too, and So­phie’s proud mum Bernie ac­com­pa­nies her daugh­ter to 90% of her com­pe­ti­tion, with Dad Michael and his mum Nana Breda mas­sive fans!

“We are all so proud of her and we know how hard she works,” says Bernie, a well­known teacher in St Joseph’s pri­mary school.

“No one else in the fam­ily dances, but she has five broth­ers – Alex (27), Adam (24), Jack (22), Sam (20) and Josh (18) who have made ban­ners and ev­ery­thing for her over the years.”

It’s not just moral sup­port that comes from So­phie’s par­ents, of course, as the world of com­pet­i­tive Ir­ish danc­ing is an ex­pen­sive one. “Yes, there’s the dresses, the wigs, the travel, it re­ally is not a cheap pas­time,” says Bernie. “But re­ally the first dress you buy is the most ex­pen­sive and af­ter that, you have a start­ing point to keep up­grad­ing.”

So­phie is still danc­ing her way to the top of her game, but what about the fu­ture?

“To keep danc­ing forever and do shows like David (who was prin­ci­pal dancer in River­dance), and also go on to teach,” ex­plains So­phie, who is still just 15. “Touch wood I’ve never had an in­jury, and I just can’t imag­ine my life with­out Ir­ish danc­ing in it.”

“You re­ally have to trust your teach­ers and be­lieve in your­self that you can do it”

Drogheda’s So­phie Reilly on the cover of Ir­ish Danc­ing Mag­a­zine

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