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Local dance studio to showcase Irish dance on St. Patty’s Day

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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On Saturday, Irish eyes will be smiling upon Oakmont High School as students from the O’Sullivan Academy of Irish Dance will be performing their annual recital. Designed to be a showcase of the students’ talent, the performance also sets the stage for a dry St. Patrick’s Day celebration, according to academy director Melissa O’Sullivan. She has been running the O’Sullivan Academy of Irish Dance in Roseville for 10 years. The academy teaches about 75 students, ranging in age from 3 years old to adults. O’Sullivan said Saturday’s performance will feature a blend of traditional and some not-so-traditional Irish dance numbers, including numbers from Mary Poppins, Pirates of the Caribbean and others, all done with an Irish flair. “I have a background in musical theater as well as drum corps,” she said. “So I utilize all of those skills and pass them on to the dancers.” Dancer Maegen Betz, 12, of Roseville has been studying Irish dance at the O’Sullivan academy for six years and said she is excited for the big performance on Saturday. Betz, who placed third at the Irish dance regional competition in Anaheim last November, is the only student at the academy who will be traveling to Belfast to compete in the world competition next month. “Irish dancing has brought me to new places around the world,” she said. “I have so many more friends now. It’s just a different experience from everything else out there.” O’Sullivan said six students from the dance school, including Betz, will also be traveling to Chicago to compete in the national championships in July. Saturday’s performance, however, will be a showcase of each and every student at the academy from all levels of dance, she said. Dancer Moriah Payne, 15, of Lincoln, has been dancing for 11 years and studying with O’Sullivan for the past seven years. She said the audience at Saturday’s recital can expect some surprises. “We’re going to be doing a couple of fun numbers,” Payne said. “Some of them will be a little more traditional, some of them not.” She said that learning and performing Irish dance has given her more confidence, confidence which she takes into other areas of her life. “It’s extremely fun and energetic,” Payne said. “It’s great for people who have a lot of energy.” Many of O’Sullivan’s students have studied at the studio for several years, including some who have been there for more than 10 years. “I see these kids longer than your average junior high or high school teacher would,” she said. “I see a lot of them go off to college, so it’s really neat.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.