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Local Irish dancers to welcome the holiday

Trinity Irish Dancers perform at a summer festival.
Trinity Irish Dancers perform at a summer festival.

BARRINGTON – For Trinity Irish Dancers, St. Patrick’s Day is as big as the Super Bowl.

Founding Artistic Director Mark Howard said Trinity Dancers performed 415 shows last year, with more than half of those shows packed into the two weeks surrounding St. Patrick’s Day.

The dance school and company has several locations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, with the Palatine location being the closest to Barrington.

“The art form itself, what I’ve always found beautiful about it, is the power and grace,” Howard said, adding that Trinity Irish Dancers has become a Chicago institution with an international reach. “It’s been a place of innovation for Irish dancing.”

Among the Trinity Irish Dancers is Barrington resident Mary Claire McDonnell, a 17-year-old junior at Barrington High School. She is also an assistant teacher at Trinity Irish Dancers, 136 Illinois St., Palatine. She has been with Trinity for about five years, joining after the previous school she danced with closed.

“[Trinity] has way more opportunities than other schools in the area, and all over really,” McDonnell said. “I’ve learned much more than Irish dance. My best friends are from dance.”

McDonnell said when she is competing, she practices every day and attends class at least five times each week, putting in about 15 hours in one week. And the hard work has paid off.

One of McDonnell’s fondest experiences with Trinity was in her second year, competing at Oireachtas, a Midwest competition. She said the team had choreography with 16 girls, and as a younger team, they weren’t sure they would do well. However, they won that competition.

In previous years, McDonnell has also performed at Chicago Bulls basketball games, Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and at the Symphony Center in Chicago.

Howard said about 90 percent of Trinity dancers are young women, so the organization as a whole is all about empowering young women through grace and power.

“They’re strong, free, feminine and smart, and mostly, they’re resilient,” he said, adding that people join Trinity because it’s a good institution, known for churning out extraordinary kids.

North Barrington resident Nicole Plenge-Gilday has enrolled her two daughters, Reese, 6, and Ciena, 4, in Trinity. This is Reese’s second year and Ciena’s first.

“You’re just amazed at how serious they take it,” Plenge-Gilday said. “Trinity really creates the foundation to build their confidence and make them believe in their abilities.”

Ciena said she is eager to perform.

“I’m excited about dancing,” Ciena said.

Trinity Irish Dancers
When/Where: 8 to 9:15 p.m. Friday, March 14, Garlands Performing Arts Center, 1000 Garlands Lane; 1:15 to 1:45 p.m. March 17, Roslyn Road Elementary School, 224 W. Roslyn Road.
Info: For information, contact Cynthia O'blein at 877-326-2328.

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