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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sophomore Jillian Collins places sixth in world at Irish dance competition

Jillian Collins ’24 traveled to Belfast, Ireland last week to compete with over 5,000 performers at the World Championship. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Collins ’24)

Last weekend, sophomore Jillian Collins placed sixth in the world in the Ladies 18-19 division at the 50th Anniversary Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne held in Belfast, Ireland. 

Collins began her Irish Dance training at the age of three after first seeing the dance style on “The Wiggles.”

“I was skipping around to the Irish dancers on the show, so my parents enrolled me in a class,” Collins wrote in an email. “Ever since then I’ve been training and competing across the globe!”

Collins traveled from Lafayette to Belfast for the week-long competition to represent the Doherty Petri School of Irish Dance, her dance school with locations in New York, Connecticut and Belfast. This is Collins’ eighth time competing at the competition.

This year’s competition was live-streamed, which meant Collins’ family at home could watch. She is also grateful to be back competing on the international stage after two years.

The road to the world championship required many rounds of qualification.

“To qualify, one must achieve a top placement at the National or regional level respective to residence, or earn a medal holding position at the world championship the year before,” she explained. 

Collins qualified in all three of those ways. She won the New England Regional Championship and the North American National Championship in addition to placing ninth in her division at the 2019 World Championship, the last time the competition was held due to Covid. 

The rounds of the competition took place over three days. On the first day, dancers performed two dances: a heavy shoe and a light shoe. Collins has trained with these specific routines since December of 2021. All dancers who ranked in the top fifty percent that day moved on to the second day and performed the routines again. The top two-thirds of those dancers then moved onto the final round.

She performed three different routines over the course of the competition: the heavy shoe and the light shoe, also known as the heavy jig and the slip jig, respectively, and a third routine to a song called “Planxty Davis,” which is performed at a speed of 108 beats per minute.

Collins described the anxiety of waiting for her name to be called at the awards ceremony.

“They call the points back from last place to first place, so if you are a top dancer you have to hope your number doesn’t get called during most of the results,” she wrote. “I was sitting in the audience squeezing my dad’s hands [and] praying through the whole results reading.” 

Collins was originally disappointed by her placement.

“When I was finally called for sixth my heart sank. I was so disappointed. My goal this year was to place in the top five, so to get sixth place by only five points was devastating,” she wrote. “It was not until my dad and I were driving back home from the airport in the U.S. that we stopped for a moment and said ‘Holy crap! I am sixth in the world!’” 

“Now that I’ve gained perspective, I am extremely excited to be a top placer in the world, representing my family, dance school, Lafayette and the USA,” Collins continued. 

Collins’ dress, which features an ombré design ranging from black to red and gold all the way to white, was designed by Gavin Doherty.

“Gavin is an absolute mastermind when it comes to the dresses and he has made all of my custom dresses since I was ten years old,” she wrote. “For his top dancers, he always makes the design a big surprise. I put full faith in him, so I don’t put in any requests.”

Collins explained that the dress, wig and makeup are huge indicators to the judges of the level of competition you are.

“I felt so lucky to receive such an incredible design that made me feel like a champion on the dance days,” Collins wrote.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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