Allentown Central Catholic students will step on world stage as Irish dancers

By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer

Two junior students at Allentown Central Catholic High School have danced their way to the 2017 World Irish Dancing Championships in Dublin, Ireland.

Megan Dano and Shannon O’Neill, parishioners of Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown and dancers at O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance, Allentown, placed in the top 15 at the regional competition, earning spots at the international competition April 9-16.

O’Neill, who began dancing when she was 3 years old, and Dano, who began dancing when she was 5, will compete against dancers from Australia, Ireland, Scotland, United States and Wales.

“I am so excited to travel to Dublin and to compete on the world stage for the very first time,” said Dano.

“It’s something I dreamt about doing since I began dancing.”

Both dancers developed a love for competition and developing the unique timing, rhythm and intricate fast-paced footwork at an early age, which ultimately brought them to the international championship.

“I love competing on the stage with my friends for group dances,” said O’Neill.

“I love traveling to difference places and countries with my teammates.”

Dano also loves to travel and looks forward to connecting with friends that she has bonded with through the years at competitions.

“Competitions are also a great way for me to test my skills and see what I need to improve so I can become the best that I can possibly be,” she said.

Aside from training three hours a day at the academy, the dancers have been preparing for the competition by performing at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the cathedral; Immaculate Conception BVM, Allentown; Mercy School for Special Learning, Allentown; St. Ann, Emmaus; and St. Patrick, Pottsville.

Dano and O’Neill are two of 20 U.S. dancers that qualified for the world competition.

While both are experiencing nervous emotions, they said the excitement and their hard work will hopefully prevail.

“I am looking forward to having all my hard work pay off,” said O’Neill.

“I know that no matter the results, it will be a great opportunity,” said