Royal OakJuly 16, 2012
Local Irish dancer taps way over hurdles
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — Irish dancing has come a long way since the 1994 debut of Michael Flatley’s “Riverdance,” and it’s the performances by a growing number of local participants that are striking a chord with competition patrons.
Resident Anthony Cahalan, 16, picked up Irish dancing after watching a Disney Channel movie called “The Luck of the Irish.” At age 8, it was different than anything Cahalan had ever seen.
“I watched a movie on TV that they were doing it and I asked my dad if I could do it,” Cahalan said. “Besides school, it’s pretty much my whole life.”
Since then, Cahalan has been learning from John Heinzman at the Ardán Academy of Irish Dance and has shown promise at competitions.
“My teacher said I have a lot better stamina than most of my competition,” Cahalan said. “Everyone is pretty much the same level other than the top one or two dancers.”
Cahalan, who will be a senior at Royal Oak High School this fall, just returned from the July 3-7 North American Irish Dance Championships in Chicago. It was his full-strength return after enduring emergency appendectomy surgery March 14, just before the March 31-April 9 World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast, Ireland, where he still competed.
“Anthony handled everything very, very well. It was extremely unfortunate timing,” Heinzman said. “He was prepared, but there’s always more style or attack you can add. There’s just no finish to it at any point in time. Anthony works very, very hard and keeps his body in tip-top shape for what we need.”
Due to the surgery, Cahalan had to sit out for more than a week of training during the final month before international competition. After a strong soft shoe performance, he struggled in the hard shoe category. He finished 34th overall in the under-17 age group of 44 dancers.
“It took a lot (out) of me conditioning-wise. I feel I could have done a lot more if I wasn’t in surgery,” Cahalan said, noting that the experience alone was worth the trip. “It was really nice. The most international I’ve ever gone was Canada just for a practice. It was the first time I’ve been on an airplane.”
Three months later, Cahalan was back in shape and started out even stronger in the soft shoe dance.
“With my soft shoe round, I placed higher than a lot of the world medalists,” Cahalan said.
After the hard shoe round, Cahalan finished 16th of about 24 U17 dancers.
“With hard shoes, there’s much more sound and rhythm,” Cahalan said. “I was much better than where I was last year. Nationals is all your friends from the small competitions.”
Heinzman said Cahalan and the other Ardán Academy of Irish Dance students did well in Chicago.
“Things went great last week. Anthony danced a brilliant performance,” Heinzman said. “Our school represented themselves quite well last week.”
With more than 400,000 Irish dancers in North America, the academy has locations serving dancers in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario from ages 5 and up. A preschool class for ages 3-4 is also offered at the Grosse Pointe location. Cahalan is based out of the Troy school.
“Ever since the ‘Riverdance,’ ‘Lord of the Dance’ shows, it’s generated a lot of interest outside the Irish community,” Heinzman said.
For more information on the Ardán Academy of Irish Dance, visit www.ardanacademy.com.
- Last 7 Days
- Last 30 Days
- Missing woman found dead - West Bloomfield
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall - Berkley
- All in the family - Clinton Township
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi - Metro Detroit
- Premature birth rates decline in Michigan for sixth year - Metro Detroit
- Looking Back: 1920s Coolidge Highway - Berkley
- Police seek help in fatal hit-and-run - Clinton Township
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer - Shelby Township
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams - Walled Lake
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee - Macomb Township
- East Detroit student dies following pool accident - Eastpointe
- Attorney dies in Harper Avenue crash - St. Clair Shores
- CVHS students to stage production of ‘Hairspray’ - Clinton Township
- Looking Back: Selinsky-Green Farmhouse c. 1898 - St. Clair Shores
- Sterling woman hurt in shooting - Sterling Heights
- Christmas comes to the Shores - St. Clair Shores
- County board considers regional water authority proposal - Macomb County
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee
- Child prodigy becomes youngest artist exhibited at Park West Gallery
- All in the family
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi